Starting a Small Claim Suit

The maximum amount you sue for in the Small Claims Division is $6,000.00, plus costs. The limit for auto accidents may be less - contact the court for further information. The costs may be added by the Judge/Magistrate at the time of judgment. Do not include your costs in the amount of your claim. To file a claim in the 50th District Court, the business or person you are suing must do business or live in the City of Pontiac, or the event giving rise to the dispute must have occurred in the City of Pontiac.

The necessary forms may be purchased at the court (see fee schedule) or downloaded from The Michigan Supreme Court website.

Before coming to the court  to fill out an affidavit claim, be sure you have the following:

  1. The filing fee, plus service fee for certified mail (see fee schedule). When filing by mail, send a check (Michigan banks only) or money order made payable to the 50th District Court. Mailing fees are subject to change due to postal increases.
  2. Defendant’s full and correct first and last name.
  3. Defendant’s current address (route or post office box numbers are not enough when you want a process server to make personal service). If you furnish an incorrect address and the court officer attempts service, he is allowed by law to charge you $10.00 for his time.
  4. Amount of claim and pertinent dates.
  5. A brief and concise statement as to the nature of the claim. The responsibility is yours to provide two things to the court: liability and damages. Liability-why it is the defendant’s obligation or responsibility to pay the money you claim. Damages-The exact amount of the money owed. Remember, it is your word against the defendant’s. It is not the Judge’s/Magistrate’s fault if he has to rule against you because you were not prepared to prove your case.

When your claim is filed, a hearing date is set 6-8 weeks away. This generally allows enough time for the defendant to receive the notice no later than the required seven days before the hearing date. This is done in one of two ways:

  1. The notice is mailed by certified mail with a return receipt requested (see fee schedule.)  If certified mail is not picked up by the defendant you may want to have a process server try to make service after a new hearing date is scheduled. Unless the court has proof the defendant has received notice; it cannot proceed with the case.
  2. A copy is left with him personally by a process server or any legally competent adult who is not a party or an officer of a corporate party. The process server fee must be paid at time of filing (see fee schedule.) 

    Important: Once your claim has been filed, you must have your case number with you when phoning or coming to the court.

Settlement Prior To Hearing Date

Settlement prior to hearing date is greatly encouraged by the Court. Often the defendant may want to settle out of court before the hearing date. If settlement is made before he is served with the claim, you are not entitled to your court costs. If settlement is made after he is served, you are entitled to add your costs. If the claim is paid, you must notify the court in writing that you want to dismiss the case. Please include your case number.