Settling a Small Claims Court
Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. Mediation is the tool that a court may try to use to settle a case. In mediation, a mediator will meet with both parties, discuss the case, and try and work towards an agreement that both sides can live with in the hopes of resolving the case without a trial.
Small Claims Court Case Types
Small Claims court handles civil cases where the amount in controversy (or dispute) is $6,000 or less. A party can only ask for money in small claims court. If a plaintiff wants specific property or the court to make an order regarding specific performance, small claims court is not the property place to file the case. Usually, these are the most common types of cases filed and heard in small claims court:
- Traffic Collisions
- Tenant and landlord disputes over a security deposit
- Cases concerning contractual terms, performance, and payment
The following cases cannot be filed in small claims court:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
How Much Money Can a Party Sue for in Small Claims Court?
A small claims court in Cheboygan County cannot award a party more than $6,000 (not including court costs and other fees). If a plaintiff filed a case in small claims court that the plaintiff believes is worth more, the case can still be filed in small claims court. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. The plaintiff also cannot file an additional case based on the same case to recover the excess amount.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff nor defendant can be represented by an attorney in small claims court. Both parties are required to represent themselves at the hearing. Either the plaintiff or the defendant can request that the case be removed to regular district court from small claims court (which would allow either side to utilize the services of 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.
Cheboygan County Small Claims Court Hearing Preparations
Before the hearing, parties should gather all documents, papers, and other evidence related to the case. This includes any contracts, written agreements, receipts, photographs, or videos that involve the subject matter of your case. Both the plaintiff and defendant will have the chance to present evidence to the court. It is advised that you write out what you plan on saying to the court about your case in advance (to help focus in on what is really important). 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.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing
The plaintiff presents his or her evidence first. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court can issue what is called a default judgment based on the case the plaintiff present.
Cheboygan County Small Claims Court Cases
89th District Court handles Small Claims court cases in Cheboygan County. A special branch of 89th District Court handles small claims court cases whose purpose is to settle and decide disputes concerning money without the use of attorneys or lawyers. A party does not need to know anything about the law to file a small claims court case. Attorneys cannot represent parties in small claims court. 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). A party simply states the case in their own words. Small claims court is a division of 89th District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Court Locations for Small Claims Court Cases in Cheboygan County
Cheboygan County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 89th District Court. 89th District Court is located at:PO Box 70 Cheboygan County Courthouse 870 S. Main Cheboygan, MI 49721
The phone number for Cheboygan County District Court is: (231) 627-8809. The 89th District Court can be foundonline.
Who Listens to a Small Claims Court Case in Cheboygan County?
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. Small Claims Court cases are only heard in front of an attorney magistrate or a judge. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Due to judicial funding, oftentimes, an attorney magistrate is used to hear a large portion of small claims court cases.
Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). The court can also take the matter under submission. If this occurs, then the court will notify both parties of the outcome (usually through mail).
Removing the Case to District Court
Removing the case to regular district court allows both parties to be represented by attorneys but also removes the $6,000 limit. 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. The document needs to be filed before the small claims court trial or hearing. The Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Cheboygan 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. Where the case is filed is 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. The court staff of the 89th District Court cannot provide advice, but it can tell you the geographic location the court serves. It is recommended you contact the court clerk of the District Court to confirm you have the proper venue.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Cheboygan County
A party wishing to file a small claims court case needs to complete a form(print out and complete). Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 89th District Court clerk. The plaintiff will also have to pay a filing fee when filing a case. Filings fees for small claims court cases 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. After the case has been filed, the clerk can provide you with a court case number. Keep the court case number as you will use it anytime you contact the court about your case (or complete any additional paperwork about 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.
How is a Defendant served in a Small Claims Court Case?
The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. The plaintiff must pay for this cost of service. Service is how the court ensures the defendant has notice of the nature of the lawsuit and the hearing date. Courts utilize both personal service and service by certified mail.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
After being served with an Affidavit and Claim of a small claims court case, the defendant has the following options:
- Ignoring the Case (which could end up with the court issuing a default judgment against you)
- Settling the Case Outside of Court
- Transferring the Case out of Small Claims Court
- Appearing at the Court Hearing