Removing the Case to District Court
Removal of a case to regular district court allows both parties to hire an attorney (if they so choose) and also removes the $6,000 limit that the court can award. Removal to district court means the normal rules and procedures apply including specifically procedures related to the presentation of evidence and discovery process. A request for removal may be made by either the plaintiff or the defendant. 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.
Small Claims Court in Tuscola County
Small Claims Court cases in Tuscola County Michigan are heard in 71B 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. Although it is called small claims court, it is a division of the 71B District Court. The district court also hears some criminal, civil, and other legal actions.
Will a Decision be made at the Hearing?
The magistrate or judge could make a decision at the hearing after the presentation of evidence. The court can also take the matter under submission. If this happens, the court will probably notify the parties through mail.
Where Should a case be filed?
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 71B 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.
Is a Jury Available in a Tuscola County Small Claims Court Case?
Juries are not allowed in small claims court cases. A small claims court case is heard by either a judge or an attorney magistrate. An attorney magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court to assist with certain types of cases and legal actions. Generally, attorney magistrates are used to hear small claims court cases.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Tuscola County
The plaintiff needs to fill out a form to file a case in small claims court which can be found online. Once completed, the form needs to be filed with the 71B District Court clerk. Along with the filing, the plaintiff must pay a filing fee which varies based on the amount of the claim. 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 prevails in the case, the court may allow the plaintiff to request the cost of the filing fee be added to the damages in the case (and ultimately paid by the defendant). After the case has been filed, the clerk can provide you with a court case number. You should keep this court case number handy as it will help you identify your case when you speak with court staff or complete paperwork associated with 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.
Tuscola County Small Claims Court Location
Small Claims Court cases in Tuscola County are handled in the 71B District Court. 71B District Court is located at:Tuscola County Courthouse 440 N. State St. Caro, MI 48723
The phone number for Tuscola County District Court is: (989) 672-3800. The District Court can be found online here.
Can I have an attorney Represent me in Small Claims Court?
Attorneys or lawyers are not allowed in small claims court. Neither the plaintiff or defendant is allowed to have an attorney represent them in the case. 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 disadvantage to this is that district court uses normal rules of discovery and presentation of evidence which means the case will take much longer to reach a conclusion.
Tuscola 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 the defendant will have a chance to present their side of the case 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.
Resolving a Case without a Hearing
Often, a court may try to settle or resolve a case short of an actual trial. This can be done through a process called mediation. A mediator will meet with both parties and attempt to find some common ground for resolving the claim without a trial.
Tuscola County Small Claims Court Hearings
The plaintiff will have the opportunity to present evidence first. The defendant will then have the chance to present their side. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the court can dismiss the case. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presents.
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 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 Case Types
Civil cases where a party is seeking $6,000 or less can be filed in small claims court. A court can only award money in a small claims court case. If a party is seeking property or specific performance, the case should not be filed in small claims court. Common types of cases handled in small claims court include the following:
- 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:
- Any intentional harm
- Assault and Battery
Is there a Monetary Limit for Small Claims Court Cases in Tuscola County?
A small claims court in Tuscola 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 is also precluded from suing again based on the same case after the case has been decided.
Option for a Defendant After Being Sued in Small Claims Court
Once a defendant has been served, the following options are available:
- 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