Below are some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) received by the 52-4 Small Claims. For a comprehensive list of FAQs for the entire 52nd District Court 4th Division visit our FAQ page.
Can the case be removed from Small Claims?
Before commencement of a trial, the plaintiff or defendant may, upon filing a demand, require that the trial be conducted before a district court judge and not a magistrate, or may remove the case from the small claims division to the general civil division of the district court.
Go to the Small Claims Forms Page and download the Demand and Order for Removal - DC86 form.
Where to file your Small Claims?
You must file your small claims in the court which has the venue (the court in which proceedings may be instituted) for the particular area where the defendant lives or where the action arose.
Can you sue a corporation?
You can start a lawsuit against a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.
A corporation, sole proprietorship, or corporation as plaintiff or defendant may be represented by a full time employee who has direct and personal knowledge of the facts in dispute. Partnerships may be represented by a general partner.
How many cases can you file at one time?
Within a district court district a person can not file more than five (5) claims in the small claims division in one (1) week.
How to start your Small Claims case?
Once you have established the proper venue (the court in which proceedings may be instituted), you have to complete an "affidavit and claim" form (see Forms Section).
To complete this form, you need to know:
- The defendant's (person that you are suing) correct name and address - (if you are suing a business, you must indicate whether it is a partnership or a corporation)
- Reasons for the claim
- The date the claim arose
- Amount of money claimed - (You may ask for court costs on the affidavit and claim by writing the amount of money claimed plus costs) (example: amount of money claimed, $35 plus costs) The Court will determine if costs will be awarded. (costs include the filing fee and service fee)
- You must sign the form in the presence of a deputy clerk or a notary public.
- Go to the Small Claims Forms Page and download the Affidavit and Claim, Small Claims - DC84 form.
- Visit the Small Claims Fees Page to find about costs associated with starting a case.
How is the defendant notified of the lawsuit?
The defendant (person being sued) has to be served with a copy of the affidavit and claim by a deputy sheriff, sheriff, bailiff, appointed court officer, legally competent adult who is not a party or an officer of a corporate party or by certified mail. (you may utilize this court's process server or if you choose service by certified mail, this court will process the certified mailing)
If you utilize this court's process server, the service fees are as follows:
- 52/4 District Court Officer - Charges a processing service fee. Visit our Small Claims Fees page to get more information.
- Certified Mail - $12 additional added on to your filing fee (this court will process the certified mailing).
When will your court date be scheduled?
When you file your small claims, the clerk will schedule a hearing date approximately 6 weeks from the date of filing, depending on the docket. Please advise the clerk if there are any days you are unavailable when filing your small claims case.
Call the Court before your court date. In order to prevent an extra trip to the court on your hearing date, it is advisable to call the court two days before the hearing date to ensure that proper service was obtained.
What should you do if you are not available for the scheduled court date?
Only for good cause shown will the court consider rescheduling your court date. Usually this requires you to contact the other party to the action and ask for their consent before you make the request to the court. This cannot be done by telephone, the proper paperwork must be filed.
Who will hear your case and what can you do if you are not satisfied with the decision of the court?
Your case will be heard by an attorney/magistrate. The magistrate's decision can be appealed within seven (7) days from the date of the judgment. If the magistrate's decision is appealed, the case will be scheduled to be heard before the assigned Judge. Once the Judge makes a final decision, it is final and you have no right to appeal.
If the magistrate/judge renders a judgment in your favor, the court will prepare the appropriate judgment and the defendant will have 21 days from the date of the judgment to pay the amount of the judgment to you. The court does not collect the judgment for you. If the defendant does not pay you within the 21 days from the date of the judgment, you may start collection procedures. Please click on, Collecting Your Money from a Small Claims Judgment - DCI84 to find out procedures on how to collect your money.
If you (the plaintiff) fail to appear for your hearing, the case will be dismissed. If the defendant fails to appear, a default judgment will be entered in your favor. The court will prepare the appropriate judgment. Both parties in these instances would have the right to file a motion to set aside the dismissal/default judgment within 21 days from the date the dismissal or the default judgment is signed. If the motion is granted, a trial date could occur immediately following the outcome of the motion or a new trial date may be held.
If the lawsuit is settled before the hearing date, you must prepare a carbon pack "dismissal" form or four (4) copies of the form and submit the completed form to the court before the hearing date or submit a statement in writing to the court before the hearing date advising the court that the case has been settled and the hearing is not necessary. Go the Small Claims Forms Page and download the Voluntary Dismissal - MC09 form.
How long is a Small Claims Judgment valid?
A small claims judgment is valid for six (6) years from date of entry.
What do I have to file with the court when the judgment is paid in full?
When you are paid in full, you must complete a satisfaction of judgment form and send it into the court. This form can be found on our Small Claims Forms Page and download the Certificate of Satisfied Judgment - MC 17 form.
This information attempts to explain the procedures for filing a small claims case. Clerks at the courts will be happy to assist you in the processing of your claim, but they are not attorneys, and cannot give out legal advice.
If you require special accommodations to use the court because of disabilities, please contact the court immediately to make arrangements.