How Much Money Can a Party Sue for in Small Claims Court?
In Michigan, the small claims court cannot award more than $6,000 to a party. If a party chooses to file their case in small claims court which is worth more than six thousand dollars, the party can still choose to file the case in small claims court. If they do, the party waives their right to recover any amount above six thousand. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Wayne County
The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. Once filled out, the plaintiff needs to file the form with the 16th District Court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. The fees for filing a small claims court case are:
- $30 – for claims up to $600
- $50 – for claims between $600 and $1,750
- $70 – for claims between $1,750 and up to $6,000
If the plaintiff is successful in the case, the court could add the cost of the filing fee to the damages in the case. Once the case is filed, the court clerk should provide you with a court case number. It is important to keep this case number with you to use each time you contact the court clerk or any court staff as it will help them identify your case. In addition to the case number, you should also be provided with the date, time, and location of the court hearing for your case.
Are Attorneys Allowed in Small Claims Court in Wayne County?
Small claims court does not allow parties to be represented by attorneys. Neither side is allowed to have an attorney represent them. Both parties are required to represent themselves at the hearing. Either side can request that the case be removed to regular district court (which means either side could then be represented by an attorney). The downside to this is that regular district court utilizes the normal rules of evidence and discovery which means your case will take longer to resolve.
Serving the Defendant in a Small Claims Court Case
Once the case is filed, the court will attempt to provide the defendant with proper notice of the case by giving the defendant a copy of the Affidavit and Claim form initially filled out by the plaintiff. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff is also responsible for paying the cost of service of the defendant. Service is a way for the court to provide notice to the Defendant of your action so the Defendant can have proper time to respond and appear and provide a defense. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Small Claims Court in Wayne County
Small Claims court cases in Wayne County are filed in the 16th District Court. The 16th District Court handles a variety of cases including small claims court cases. A special branch of 16th District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. Small claims court is designed so that a normal person (non-lawyer) can successfully use the court to hear their case. In small claims court in Michigan, attorneys are not allowed to argue cases for clients. A party does not need an attorney in small claims court (but can obviously consult with or talk to an attorney about their case if they want). At the hearing, a party is only expected to present their case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 16th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?
The court may make a decision at the hearing after both sides presented their evidence. The court may also take the case under submission (and rule at a later time). If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
What Options does a Defendant have in Small Court Cases?
A defendant has the following options after being sued in small claims court:
- Removing the case to Regular District Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing
- Ignoring the Case (which may end up in a court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing
The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.
Resolving a Case without a Hearing
Oftentimes the court may try to settle a court case without a hearing. Mediation is the tool that a court may try to use to settle a case. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.
Small Claims Court Locations in Wayne County
Small Claims Court cases in Wayne County are handled in the 16th District Court. 16th District Court is located at:32765 Five Mile Rd. Livonia, MI 48154
The phone number for Wayne County District Court is: (734) 466-2500. The District Court can be found online here.
Wayne County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
A plaintiff should file the small claims court case in the district court where the defendant lives, where the defendant’s business is located, or where the transactions (that are at issue) occurred. This is commonly called venue. If a plaintiff files in the wrong district court, it will postpone your case being heard and may result in you paying multiple filing fees or even having the incorrectly filed case being dismissed by the court. District court staff is prohibited by law from providing you legal advice, but we do recommend contacting them to confirm that the district court’s geographical jurisdiction covers the area where your case occurred.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Wayne County?
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. Cases in small claims court are heard by either a district judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
Preparing for a Hearing in Small Claims Court
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both the plaintiff and defendant will have the chance to present evidence to the court. You should write out or prepare what you plan on saying ahead of time. Also, if there are any witnesses besides yourself who have information that would support your position, you should arrange to have them present at the hearing so they can present testimony to the court.
Removing the Case to District Court
Removal is the legal name for transferring the case from small claims court to regular district court (which allows either side to be represented by an attorney and removes the $6,000 limit of small claims court). Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. Either party can request to move the case out of small claims court. To accomplish this, a party should fill out and file with the court clerk a Demand and Order for Removal, Small Claims. This document needs to be filed prior to the small claims court trial or hearing and can actually be filed the same day (so long as it is before the hearing starts). The Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
What kind of cases can be filed in small claims court?
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. Money is the only remedy a party can ask for in small claims court. If a party is seeking property or specific performance, the case should not be filed in small claims court. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:
- Contract disputes including payment or performance
- Car accidents where insurance is not covering the damages
- Tenant and landlord disputes over the return of security deposit
Small claims court does not handle the following types of cases:
- Assault and Battery
- Any Intentional Harm or Damage