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Tera Jackson-Davis, Director
421 Madison, 2nd Floor
Phone: (313) 965-5223
Hours: 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

This division handles cases in which one party (a person, group, business, corporation, or organization) brings an action against another for money owed as a result of a variety of causes.  Such reasons include overdue accounts, rental security deposits, delinquent rent, repair bills, physical damage or breach of contract.

The person being sued must do business or live within the city of Detroit, or the action must have occurred in the city of Detroit.  To begin a lawsuit in the Civil Division, you must fill out and file the appropriate forms and pay the necessary fees at the Civil counter on the 2nd floor.  The docket is divided into two main categories:

  • General Civil cases (for suits up to $25,000.00)
  • Small Claims (for suits up to $5,000.00)

The General Civil docket handles all lawsuits started in the Civil Division that are not Small Claims cases.  In these cases, either party has the right to an attorney, the right to a jury trial, and the right to appeal the decision of the court.

A civil action begins with the filing of a Complaint with a court.  A complaint is the original pleading in a civil action where the plaintiff states the basis for the lawsuit.  A summons is a notice that is served (delivered) to a party advising that a lawsuit has been started against him or her.  The summons directs the person to appear in court within the given time or a judgment will be entered.

Small Claims cases involve suits for money disputes up to $5,000.00.  Initial Small Claims hearings are before magistrates, whose opinions can be appealed to a judge.  If you have a case in Small Claims court, you give up the right to a jury trial, and the right to appeal a judge's decision to a higher court.  Either party may request that the matter be placed on the regular civil docket.  However, the request must be made before the date of trial.

To start a Small Claims lawsuit, you must fill out and file an Affidavit and Claim form at the Civil Division counter on the 2nd floor of the Madison Center Building.  These forms are available at the cashier counter for a nominal fee, and also at many office supply stores.  The cost for beginning a Small Claims suit depends on the amount of your claim. Fee information for starting the suit as well as service (notice) fees can be obtained at the cashier counter.

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