When you are suing someone for $5,000 or less, your case can be heard in the Small Claims Division of the District Court. Your case will be heard by a judge.
In small claims cases, the parties represent themselves. You cannot have an attorney present your case or have a jury trial. In addition, the judge's decision is final and cannot be appealed. If either party objects to these conditions, the case will be transferred to the District Court Civil Division for a trial.
If you are the one filing the case, you are called the plaintiff, and the person or business you are suing is called the defendant. Small claims cases should be filed either where the cause of action arose or where the defendant resides or is employed.
To start the case, the plaintiff must file an "affidavit and claim form" with the clerk of the district court court. This form is available from the court. It is also available from this site in the Forms section or online at the State Court Forms Index . For additional detail, you can view more information about the small claims process.
The plaintiff is responsible for paying the filing fee and other fees. If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the fees may be added to the judgment against the defendant.
The defendant can request that a small claims case be removed to the regular civil division. If that occurs, all parties may have attorneys. Processing of the case then follows the pattern of a regular civil case and the decision may be appealed to the circuit court.
It is important to realize that if a money judgment is ordered by the judge, the defendant might not automatically pay the money and court costs to the plaintiff. You may have to take additional steps to obtain your money. One of the ways to collect is to garnish the defendant's wages or bank account. For more information see the Collections page on this site.
Many courts are offering mediation as an alternative to filing a small claims case. You may want to contact :
Mid-Michigan Dispute Resolution Center
200 S. Michigan Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48602
|Filing Fee||Judicial Electronic Filing Fee||Total|
|Claims up to $600.00||$25.00||$5.00||$30.00|
|Claims $600.01 to $1,750.00||$45.00||$5.00||$50.00|
|Claims $1,750.01 to $5,000.00||$65.00||$5.00||$70.00|
For your convenience, the public libraries have video tapes available for viewing regarding Small Claims Court.