What are Small Claims cases?
Small Claims cases are heard in the Justice Court, which is a court of limited jurisdiction. The Justice of the Peace presides over this court. This court provides a forum for the resolution of simple civil claims in which;
- The recovery of monetary damages, civil penalties, or personal property is sought
- Parties may represent themselves
- Informal procedures are used
- Issues are resolved quickly
What is the jurisdiction of the Justice Court?
A plaintiff may bring suit in small claims court if the controversy is not more than $10,000.
What about Venue?
Generally, an action in small claims must be brought in the county and precinct in which the defendant resides, the county and precinct where the incident, or the majority of the incidents, that gave rise to the claim occurred, the county and precinct where the contract or agreement was performed, or the county and precinct where the property in question is located.
How do you file a Small Claims case?
A person, or that person’s attorney or agent, may file a Plaintiff’s Petition for Small Claims, along with a money order for the appropriate filing fees. NOTE: Service fees are per individual, so if multiple defendants are to be served, multiple filing fees must be included. If service is to be performed outside ofMontgomeryCounty, please contact the Constable’s Office in the County in which service must be performed to determine their appropriate service fee.
What happens after filing a claim?
Once the Defendant has been properly served (notice of suit), they have must provide written answer to the court by the 14th day after the date of service (see Defendant’s Original Answer). Once the defendant answers, a court date will be set, and both parties will be notified via mail of that date and time. NOTE: If you move or have a change of address or phone number, you must notify the court of that change. Failure to do so may result in you not receiving notification of the court date and the case being dismissed.
Who may appeal and how is it done?
A dissatisfied party may appeal the final judgment of the Justice Court to the County Court as long as the amount in controversy, exclusive of costs, is more than $20.00. That party must notify the court within 21 days from judgment date, in writing, and submit an Appeal Bond in an amount set by the court which is required to perfect the appeal.
**CIVIL JUDGMENTS CANNOT BE ENFORCED CRIMINALLY**