Claims: Frequently Asked Questions
How are Small Claims cases conducted?
District Court Small Claims cases are first scheduled for mediation
with the Wayne Mediation Center. Mediation provides the parties with
an opportunity to bring their dispute before a neutral facilitator
who has been trained to aid in dispute resolution. Mediators make no
determination of right or wrong, they simply aid in the search for
equitable resolution between parties.
parties cannot settle their case through mediation, a trial is
immediately held before a 36th District Court magistrate.
During the trial, all parties present their sides of the case. It is
important that you bring to court any records, evidence or witnesses
to support your case. You should be prepared to state your case
clearly and completely. After testimony and evidence is presented,
the magistrate will make a decision.
magistrate is a lawyer appointed by the Chief Judge of a court, who
has certain powers and duties which include Small Claim trials.
What kinds of results can occur after a Small Claims Mediation or
parties are present at a hearing, the following can occur:
Can either party appeal the decision of a magistrate?
The decision of a magistrate at a Small Claims trial can be
appealed. You must file your appeal with the Civil Division within 7
days of the entry of judgment. Appeals are scheduled within 21 days
after the filing on a 36th District Court Judge’s docket.
The decision of the judge is final. There is no appeal of the
What happens if a Default Judgment or Dismissal is entered on the
defendant was properly served, fails to appear and a Default
Judgment is entered against the defendant, the defendant has 21 days
to file a Motion to Set Aside the Judgment. The motion must be filed
at the Civil/Landlord Tenant Division counter on the 2nd
floor. A $20.00 motion
fee is required along with the cost of $1.00 for the form.
plaintiff has 21 days following the hearing date to file a Motion to
Set Aside the Dismissal (if the defendant was properly served). A
$20.00 motion fee is required and the cost of the form is $1.00.
Generally, two weeks after the motion is filed, the Magistrate
decides either to grant or deny the motion (no hearing is required
for this motion). The parties will be advised by mail if the motion
was granted or denied. If the motion to set aside is granted, a new
court date is set. These motions cannot be appealed.
What happens if either party in the lawsuit does not show up for the
plaintiff fails to appear for the mediation hearing or trial, the
case is dismissed. If the defendant fails to appear and was properly
served, the magistrate enters a default judgment against the
defendant. If the defendant
was not properly served, then another hearing will be scheduled (if
the Small Claim Affidavit has not expired) and the defendant must be
served. Parties are notified of Default Judgments and Dismissals by
Can an appeal be made of either a dismissal of default judgment?
MCLA 600.8427 only trials before a magistrate can be appealed.
What happens if the Court enters a judgment against the defendant?
the court enters a judgment against the defendant, the plaintiff is
solely responsible for collecting the money judgment.
At the hearing, a Small Claims Judgment form is completed
detailing what the plaintiff was awarded and the defendant’s
responsibility to pay.
Defendants have 21 days from the date of the judgment to voluntarily
pay or file a Motion for Installment Payments ($20.00 Motion Fee
required). The Small Claims Judgment form is available at the
Civil/Landlord Tenant Division counter for $1.00.
What can the plaintiff do if the defendant does not voluntarily pay
after 21 days from the judgment being entered, no payment has been
received the plaintiff may file any or all of the following:
Writ of Periodic
Garnishment (wage garnishment)
Writ of Non-Periodic
Garnishment (typically bank account garnishment)
Tax Garnishment (State
of Michigan garnishment)
garnishments require a $15.00 filing fee and may be served by
certified mail, a process server or a Court Officer.
Additionally the plaintiff may file an Order of Seizure of Property.
This Order authorizes a Court Officer or Deputy Sheriff to take
possession of personal property of the defendant to be sold in order
to pay the judgment.
Orders for Seizure require a $15 filing fee.
plaintiff does not have sufficient information about the defendant
to file a Writ of Garnishment, the plaintiff may file a Discovery
Subpoena and schedule a creditor’s exam.
The Discovery Subpoena
requires a $15.00 filing fee. Contact
the Court regarding service of the subpoena.
What happens once the judgment has been paid in full?
defendant pays the judgment in full. The plaintiff
file a Satisfaction of Judgment form in order for the Court’s record
to be updated. The form is available at a cost of $1.00 at the Civil
Division counter at 36th District Court.