How to File a Small Claims Court Case in Montcalm County
The forms for a plaintiff to fill out to begin a small claims court case can be found here. The form needs to be filed with the court clerk. When submitting the filing, the plaintiff will need to pay a filing fee. The filing fees 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. 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). Along with the court case number, the clerk should provide you with the location, date, and time of the hearing for your case.
Settling a Case Without a Small Claims Court Trial
Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. Mediation is the method by which a court tries to settle a case without a hearing or trial. During mediation, a mediator (which is an unbiased third party oftentimes with specific training on dispute resolution) will meet with both parties (separately or together) in the hopes of settling a case.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
You should gather all evidence well before the date of the hearing. Evidence could include a contract, a purchase order, a receipt, pictures, or videos related to the case. Both sides will be given the opportunity to present their case. 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). If you have witnesses who also have information that will support your position, you should make arrangements to have them present for the hearing so they can present testimony.
Montcalm County Small Claims Court Location
Montcalm County Small Claims Court cases are handled in the 64B District Court. 64B District Court is located at:Montcalm County 617 N. State Stanton, MI 48888
The phone number for Montcalm County District Court is: (989) 831-7450. The Montcalm County District Court can be found online here.
Where Should a case be filed?
A Small Claims Court case needs to be filed where the defendant’s home is, where the defendant’s business is located (if you are suing a business), or where the transaction or event that the case arose from occurred. This is commonly called venue. Filing in the wrong district court can postpone your case being heard, force you to pay additional filing and service fees, and/or have your case be dismissed. The court staff of the 64B 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.
Montcalm County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cases in Montcalm County Michigan are heard in 64B District Court. Small Claims court is a special type of court with a purpose of allowing people to settle their disputes over 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 are not allowed to appear in court or argue on behalf of clients in small claims court. Because of this, a party does not need an attorney. At the hearing, a party is only expected to present their case in their own words. Small claims court is a special division of 64B District Court. District courts also handle other criminal and civil cases, in addition to small claims court.
Service of a Defendant in Small Claims Court
The court will provide a copy of the Affidavit and Claim that you filed to the Defendant. The plaintiff is required to pay the court for the cost of service of the defendant. 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.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Hearing
Plaintiff usually is given the first chance to present evidence. The defendant presents his or her evidence once the plaintiff’s presentation of evidence is complete. The court may dismiss the case if the plaintiff fails to appear. The court may enter a default judgment is the defendant fails to appear at the hearing.
Types of Cases 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 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:
- Assault and Battery
- Any Intentional Harm or Damage
Small Claims Court Case Removal 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). If the case is removed, it also means the process will be much lengthier as the normal rules of evidence and discovery will now apply. 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 must be filed before the hearing starts, but can actually be filed the day of the hearing or anytime before the hearing. The Demand and Order for Removal is available on a website.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither side is allowed to have an attorney represent them. Each side is required to represent himself or herself in front of the court. 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.
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:
- 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
Ruling After a Small Claims Court Hearing
The court can make a decision at the time of the hearing (after both sides have presented their case). Or, the judge or magistrate might take the matter under submission. If a matter is taken under submission, the court will notify both parties of the ruling (likely through mail).
What is the maximum amount of money that a Small Claims Court can Award in Montcalm County?
A small claims court in Montcalm 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 is worth more than six thousand dollars, the plaintiff can still choose to file the case in small claims court. But, if the plaintiff does so, he or she gives up the right to recover anything more than that amount. Additionally, the plaintiff is precluded from filing another case to ask for the amount above the threshold.
Is a Jury Available in a Montcalm County Small Claims Court Case?
Small Claims Court cases do not use juries. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. Attorney magistrates are attorneys who have been appointed by the court to handle certain legal matters. In most instances, an attorney magistrate will hear your case.