|Small Claims Information|
GENERAL RULES FOR INITIATING A SMALL CLAIMS
The Small Claims Court can decide claims for MONEY ONLY. The Small Claims Referee cannot order a defendant to do anything other than pay a specific sum of money. So you must be able to put a price tag on any damages you have suffered as a result of the defendant's actions. You must have evidence to offer to prove the damages. Small Claims Court does not have jurisdiction in such actions as libel, slander, repossession or cases which do not involve actual monetary damages.
There is a $64.00 filing fee to initiate a small claims Complaint that names one defendant and $10.00 filing fee for each additional defendant (residing at a separate address). This fee is due at the time the Complaint is filed. You may obtain the Complaint form from the Clerk's office.
The amount claimed cannot exceed $3,000.00.
You must know the address of the party you file suit against. Before you file, make sure you know the true, legal name of the person or business you intend to sue. If you sue the wrong party, the case may be dismissed or you could wind up with an uncollectible judgment. An unincorporated business (sole owner or proprietorship) must be sued in the personal name of the owner or partner, i.e., John Doe dba John's Repair Shop. (dba means "doing business as".) Only a corporation can actually be sued in the company name. If you are unsure whether the business is incorporated, call the Ohio Secretary of State at (614) 466-3910.
As a general rule, you should seek to sue a person or business in the county in which he or she resides or where the transaction at issue took place.
If you are a minor, under 18, you must have your parent or guardian file the suit for you. You may not sue a minor. You may sue a minor through his parent or legal guardian.
Ohio Revised Code 1925.17 Corporations; presentation of claim or
defense provides that:
PROCESSING THE COMPLAINT:
Alternatively, you may request that the Sheriff attempt to serve the defendant personally with the Summons and Complaint. You must supply an address where the defendant may be served. There is an additional $20.00 fee for service by the Sheriff.
If you have a witness that is necessary to prove your case, you have the right to subpoena that witness to guarantee his or her appearance at your trial. You may obtain the subpoena forms from the Clerk's Office. The Court requests that the completed subpoena be turned into the Clerk's office at least five (5) days prior to the hearing. You must provide the witness being subpoenaed with a $6.00 witness fee and mileage at 10 cents per mile. Out-of-state witnesses cannot be compelled to attend.
Court starts promptly at the time written on the Summons. BE ON TIME. If you are late you may automatically lose.
The trial affords both parties the opportunity to offer evidence and to present and cross-examine witnesses. Bear in mind that you will have to convince the Small Claims Referee not only that you are in the right, but also that you are entitled to a specific sum of money from the defendant. Collect all documents related to your case; receipts, canceled checks, estimates, bills, contracts, photos, etc.
At the time scheduled for the hearing, the Referee will call all the cases set for that day. If the plaintiff does not appear, the case will be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear, the Referee may recommend that a default judgment be entered in the plaintiff's favor. A copy of the default judgment entry will be sent to the plaintiff by the court. If the defendant appears and admits that the money is owed plaintiff, but desires time to pay, the referee may set up a payment schedule. If such payment schedule is established, judgment for plaintiff against defendant shall be stayed as long as defendant makes the required payments.
Upon consideration of the objections, the Court may adopt, reject, or modify the recommendation; hear additional evidence; return the recommendation to the Referee with instructions; or hear the matter itself. On appeal, a party may not assign as error the Court's adoption of a Referee's finding of fact unless an objection to that finding is contained in that party's written objections to the Referee's Recommendation. The court may adopt any finding of fact in the Referee's Recommendation without further consideration unless the party who objects to that finding supports that objection with a copy of all relevant portions of the transcript from the Referee's hearing or an affidavit about evidence submitted to the Referee if no transcript is available. In deciding whether to adopt a Referee's finding of fact, the Court may disregard any evidence that was not submitted to the Referee unless the complaining party demonstrates that with reasonable diligence he or she could not have discovered and produced that evidence for the Referee's consideration. If you want the Court to make a different factual finding than that found by the Referee you must order and pay for a transcript of the hearing before the Referee.
The Municipal Court Judge will review the record and rule on the objections. The parties will be notified of the Decision of the Court.
If no timely Objections are made, the Referee's recommendation will be adopted as the final order of the Court.
PAYMENT OF CLAIM:
COLLECTING ON A JUDGMENT:
** THE MEMBERS OF THE CLERK'S OFFICE ARE NOT ATTORNEYS AND BY LAW ONLY ATTORNEYS CAN GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU REQUIRE LEGAL ADVICE YOU MUST GET THE ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY**
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