Small Claims under Rule 60
What is a Small Claim under Civil Procedure Rule 60?
It is a summary (fast) proceeding available to a plaintiff (the person who files the complaint or petition with the court) who files an action for collection of money, provided that the sum of money owed, without interest, is $15,000 or less. If the person is a self-represented litigant, they may use the OAT 991 Form, Complaint and Order (Rule 60), available at the office of the clerk of the court or at the Pro Se Centers.
What should a plaintiff do to bring this type of action?
A plaintiff must file a complaint with the Municipal Court where the defendant (the person against whom the complaint is filed, the person who owes them money) lives. The complaint must include the following information:
- name, physical and mailing address, telephone number, fax number, and email address of the plaintiff or their legal representative
- name and physical and mailing address of the defendant (if this information is not available at the time of filing the complaint, the action will continue under an ordinary procedure and not under Civil Procedure Rule 60)
- nature of the debt (why you are owed that money, for what)
- the exact amount owed
- details of the collection procedures carried out before filing the complaint with the court
In addition, the plaintiff may attach an affidavit in support of the facts contained in the complaint or a copy of any other document to substantiate the claim.
The plaintiff must include with the complaint a draft of a notice-summons, the clerk of the court will immediately issue. You may use OAT 991-A form, Notice and Summons for Small Claims – Rule 60. The plaintiff will be responsible for serving the notice-summons and a copy of the complaint by personal delivery or by certified mail within 10 days of the filing of the complaint.
When filing the complaint, the plaintiff will be informed of the date for the hearing on the merits, which, due to the nature of the proceeding, will be within three months of the filing date, but never before 15 days of the date of issuance of the notice to the defendant.
What can the parties expect on the day of the hearing?
Both the plaintiff and the defendant may appear for the hearing as self-represented litigants or they may appear with the assistance of counsel. During the hearing, the court will examine the parties’ allegations and the evidence presented and will render judgment immediately.
If the defendant does not appear on the day of the hearing and the court finds that notice of process was duly served and that the defendant owes the plaintiff a certain amount of money, the court may make an entry of default, which means that the proceeding will continue without them. After default has been entered and the evidence examined, the court may enter a judgment against the defendant and order payment of the amount owed.
Revised: February 2023