Starting a Small Claims Suit
The maximum amount you sue for in the Small Claims Division is $6,000, plus costs. The limit for auto accidents may be less - contact the court for further information. The costs may be added by the Judge/Magistrate at the time of judgment. Do not include your costs in the amount of your claim. To file a claim in the 16th District Court, the business or person you are suing must do business or live in the City of Livonia, or the event giving rise to the dispute must have occurred in the City of Livonia.
Before coming to the court to fill out an affidavit claim, be sure you have the following:
- The filing fee, plus service fee for certified mail (fee schedule) (PDF)). When filing by mail, send a check (Michigan banks only) or money order made payable to the 16th District Court. Mailing fees are subject to change due to postal increases.
- Defendant's full and correct first and last name.
- Defendant's current address (route or post office box numbers are not enough when you want a process server to make personal service).
- Amount of claim and pertinent dates.
- A brief and concise statement as to the nature of the claim. The responsibility is yours to provide two things to the court: liability and damages. Liability-why it is the defendant's obligation or responsibility to pay the money you claim. Damages-The exact amount of the money owed. Remember, it is your word against the defendant. It is not the Judge's/Magistrate's fault if he has to rule against you because you were not prepared to prove your case.
When Your Claim Is Filed
When your claim is filed, a hearing date is set 4 to 6 weeks away. This generally allows enough time for the defendant to receive the notice no later than the required seven days before the hearing date. This is done in one of two ways:
- The notice is mailed by certified mail with a return receipt requested (fee schedule) (PDF)) If certified mail is not picked up by the defendant you may want to have a process server try to make service after a new hearing date is scheduled. Unless the court has proof the defendant has received notice; it cannot proceed with the case.
- A copy is left with him personally by a process server or any legally competent adult who is not a party or an officer of a corporate party.
Once your claim has been filed, you must have your case number with you when phoning or coming to the court.