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Small Claims Cases
Small Claims is available for cases involving $5,500 or less in damages.
The differences between Small Claims and General Civil cases include:
- You represent yourself; there are no attorneys.
- Mediation will be scheduled to see if you and the other party can resolve the matter.
- Your case will be heard by the Magistrate unless you request a judge.
- You will not have a jury trial.
- There is no appeal from the judge's decision.
Filing a Small Claims Lawsuit
Complete an Affidavit and Claim form (SCAO Approved DC84), available on the Court Forms link on our home page, or from the Civil Department.
Who May File a Claim?
You may file a claim on behalf of yourself. Only an owner, partner, or full-time employee with personal knowledge of the facts leading to the dispute can file a claim on behalf of a business.
What do I need to file the complaint?
- The defendant's full name and address.
- The amount of the claim and the date(s) involved.
- A brief statement as to what happened.
- If you file by mail, a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Resolution Services Center of Central Michigan conducts mediation of Smalll Claims cases. The purpose of mediation is to assist the parties to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the dispute. If the matter isn't resolved at mediation, it will be scheduled for trial.
For Your Trial
Bring your witnesses and all of your paperwork to the hearing. If the defendant doesn't appear, you may be entitled to a default judgment. If you don't appear, your case will be dismissed.
The magistrate will render a decision at the end of the hearing. If you disagree with the magistrate's decision, you may file an appeal within 7 days and the case will be re-tried before a judge. There is no appeal from a judge's decision.
Collecting Money from a Small Claims Judgment
It is your responsibility to collect a judgment. If the other party can't pay the full amount, they may ask for a payment schedule. Unless there is a payment schedule, if the defendant does not pay you within 21 days of the judgment, you will need to take further action to collect your judgment through the defendant's wages or property.