Small Claims General FAQ
What is a small claim case?
A small claim case is a claim that is valued at $5,000 or less.
What should be considered before filing?
Before filing a small claim, a plaintiff should consider the following:
- How collectible is a defendant?
- How much you are suing for and the potential costs of enforcement of a small claims judgment?
Does the court conduct a trial in small claims?
Small claims are resolved in a hearing, and not a formal trial as with general civil matters. If the parties do not agree, there will be a hearing. In this district court, the hearing will be heard by the judge or magistrate.
May I bring a lawyer?
No. The law specifically exclude attorneys from representing anyone in small claims court.
Can a defendant move the case out of small claims?
Yes. A defendant may ask that the case be removed from the Small Claims Division and into General Civil Division. If moved into the General Civil Division, the parties may be represented by an attorney, ask for a jury trial, and have the right to appeal to the circuit court.
General Civil Division, the parties may be represented by an attorney, ask for a jury trial, and have the right to appeal to the circuit court.
Are small claim judgments final?
Yes. Small claim judgments are final if heard by the District Court Judge. There are no appeals.
What happens when parties come to an agreement before the hearing?
The parties must notify the court and the settlement will be entered.
What are the differences between the Small Claims Division and the General Civil Division?
In the Small Claims Division, there are no attorneys allowed, no jury trials, and the judge’s decision is final. In the General Civil Division, attorneys may represent the parties, the parties may ask for a jury trial, and both parties have a right to appeal the case to Circuit Court on the basis of any legal errors in the proceedings.
Can I bring a claim about an automobile accident?
Michigan is a no fault state. Therefore, auto claims from a collision is limited to $1,000.00 if the defendant is insured. If the defendant is not insured, the plaintiff may sue for all of the damages incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Note: If this amount exceeds $5,000, the case must be brought in a general civil lawsuit.
Can I sue anyone in the 56-B District Court?
A suit can be brought in the 56-B District Court only if:
- The claim arises out of an event that occurred in Barry County, or
- The defendant resides in Barry County.
Can I bring any claim in Small Claims Court?
No, but most cases can be brought in small claims. There are specific cases that cannot be brought in small claim court, they are:
- Defamation (libel and slander), and
- Intentional Torts (e.g. Assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, etc.)