Settlement prior to hearing date:
Settlement before your hearing date is greatly encouraged by the court. If a settlement is made before the defendent is served with the claim, you are not entitled to your court costs. If settlement is made after the defendent is served, you are entitled to add your court costs. If the claim is paid, you must notify the court in writing that you want to dismiss the case and PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR CASE NUMBER.
Plan to arrive at the Court early to check in. You must bring all paperwork and evidence to prove your claim, such as bills of sale, receipts, guarantees, accident reports, leases, promissory notes, repair estimates, photos, ETC. A copy must be provided for each defendant and a copy for the court file. NO ADJOURNMENT WILL BE GRANTED TO PERMIT YOU TO BRING THIS AT A LATER DATE.
One of several things may occur on the hearing date:
- If both parties appear, the judge may recommend that the parties go to mediation and the case may be adjourned. If either party does not want this the hearing will proceed.
- The plaintiff does not appear and the defendant does appear, the case may be dismissed.
- The defendant may appear, refuse to proceed in the Small Claims Division or request that the case be transferred to the Civil Division, this is the defendents legal right. They must then file an answer in writing within 14 days of the transfer and a new pre-trial date will be set.
- The defendant may appear, and admit liability for your claim. A consent judgment will then be entered.
- The defendant may fail to appear. If he has had proper service and you can prove to the court you have a proper claim, a default judgment may be entered.
- The defendant may appear, disagree with the claimor agree to have it heard in the Small Claims Division and trial will be held.
- If service has been made and neither the plaintiff nor the defendant appear or the defendant appears but the plaintiff does not the claim will be dismissed.
When the Judge/Magistrate calls your case state your claim as simply as possible. If necessary, refer to the papers or evidence you have brought with you. If you furnished copies for the court file, the Judge/Magistrate can follow along. The person you are suing will then have an opportunity to tell why they feel they do not owe you the claim. After all testimony and evidence has been presented, a decision will be made. The judge's decision in small claims is final and cannot be appealed to a higher court. Although, on petition by either party, the same judge may reopen the case. A magistrate's decision may be appealed. The case will be rescheduled before a district judge and both parties will explain their case again.