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Small Claims





               The Small Claims Court is a division of the Berea Municipal Court which allows parties to file MONEY ONLY claims up to $6,000.00 or counterclaims up to $6,000.00. Although attorneys are allowed in Small Claims Court, you do not need to have legal knowledge to file a claim, however, it is up to you to provide all the information to the Small Claims Clerk about the person or business you are suing






               In order to file a small claim in the Berea Municipal Court, the party you are suing, the “Defendant”, must be located within the Berea Municipal Court District, or the incident must have taken place within the Berea Municipal Court District.


               A small claim can be filed by or against any individual, business, company or organization.  Corporations can file claims through their officers or employees, but claims by privately owned businesses must be filed by the owner.  If you are filing a claim against a business, you must know if it is incorporated. This information can be obtained by contacting the Secretary of State in Columbus.  If the business is not incorporated, you must have the complete name of the owner. Sometimes this information can be found in the City Directory at the Public Library.


               A corporation, even a small, one person operation, may through it’s officers and/or shareholders file a claim  in small claims court and present evidence either in support of its claim or in defense of a claim against it.  The officers or shareholders of such a corporation, however, may not under Ohio law “engage in cross/examination, argument or other acts

 advocacy”. ORC 1925.17.






               The person filing the claim, the “Plaintiff”, must appear at the Clerk’s office during normal business hours of the court. The following information is necessary to file a claim: complete name, current mailing address, telephone number, date and location of the incident, and proof of value (i.e. receipts, estimates, leases, contracts, IOU’s, account records, or canceled checks) If the Defendant owes you more than $6,000 you will have to forfeit any money over $6,000.00, or file a regular Civil case.  There is a filing fee for a Small Claim case and you should contact the Clerk’s office for a current fee schedule.


               Once the complaint is filed, notice of such filing and the date of the Court hearing will be sent to all parties. That hearing date will be approximately 4 - 6 weeks after the complaint is filed.


               If you are a Defendant and believe that you have a claim against the Plaintiff, you can file a counterclaim up to $6,000.00. Counterclaims must be filed no later than seven (7) calendar days before the hearing date. If a counterclaim is filed, the hearing date will remain the same.






               When your case is called for hearing, have all the evidence you feel you will need to prove your case. If you do not present a document (with copies for the other parties and for you to keep) the Court cannot consider it in making the decision. You should also bring with you any witnesses you feel will support your claim. You may subpoena a witness to appear in court, but you should do this at least one week before the hearing. If your claim is due to an auto accident, be sure to bring your title.




               When the Magistrate calls your case, come forward with your proof and witnesses, and state your case clearly, accurately, and honestly. Do not be hostile to the Magistrate or to the other party. After the Plaintiff presents their case the Defendant will be able to present their evidence and witnesses. Both parties can be cross-examined by the other party or the Court.


               Remember time is important! You cannot continue the court date unless you request a continuance no later than 48 hours before the hearing. Also, be early to the hearing so that you can get to the right place and get adjusted.






               The Magistrate will render his decision in the form of a recommendation to the Judge. The recommendation will be mailed to the parties.  Upon receipt of the decision, both parties have fourteen (14) days to object to the decision to the Judge.


               If the defendant has not made a counterclaim, a judgment in his favor ends the case.


               If judgment is awarded to the plaintiff for all or part of his claim  or  to the defendant for all or part of his counterclaim, the loser becomes the judgment debtor and additional action can be taken against him if his debt is not paid or discharged promptly.






               Once you receive a Judgment in your favor, you may then start collection proceedings if the other party still has not paid.  This is the hard part.  While the Court can assist you in the preparation of forms for Garnishment of Wages, Bank Attachments or Levies, the Court itself cannot determine where the Judgment Debtor works, banks, or owns property.  It is your responsibility to provide this information to the Court. If the party you sue has no assets, you may not be able to collect.  Please keep in mind that the Clerk’s office employees are not attorneys and are not allowed by Ohio Revised Code to give legal advice.  If you require advice, you must consult with an attorney.






            If you have any questions about Small Claims Court or a particular case, please contact the Clerk’s office at 826-5860.  Although Deputy Clerks are not attorneys, they may still be able to answer some of your questions, or direct you to someone who can.

Step By Step Through Small Claims Court
Small Claims Collection of Judgments
Objection to Magistrates Decision
Small Claims Court Costs
Small Claims Form
Rules of Court

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