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The Small Claims Court is specifically designed to hear court cases involving claims of $10,000.00 or less.
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No. A Corporation may appear as a claimant, assignee, subrogee or counter - claimant in a small claims proceeding, unless represented by an attorney. When the amount claimed does not exceed $1,500.00, a corporation may defend as defendant any small claims proceeding in any court of this State through any officer, director, manager, department manager or supervisor of the corporation as though such corporation was appearing in its proper person. For the purpose of this rule, the term "officer" means the president, vice-president, registered agent or other person vested with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the corporation. (Supreme Court Rule 282(b), effective August 1, 1987).
If you file a Small Claims suit, you are called the plaintiff. If you have been sued in the Small Claims Court, you are called the defendant. In order to begin a Small Claims action, you must file a complaint with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The complaint is a form which explains who you are suing, where the person lives, how much money they owe you and why they owe you the money. The complaint is signed by the plaintiff and the statement is sworn to before a notary public or Clerk of the Court. You must list the defendant's exact name and address. The Clerk is not able to help you find that out.
If you have been sued in Small Claims, you and/or your attorney must appear on the return date set forth in the summons. The Court will hear the case on the return date or it may set the case for trial at a later date.
When you file your suit, the clerk will provide you with the pre-trial date. If at pre-trial, the claim is contested, the case will be set for trial at a later date. Once a trial date is scheduled it may only be continued by a judge or if it is settled, a dismissal will remove it from the schedule. If the defendant does not appear, it may be that he/she was not served with the complaint and summons.
If this is the case, then you must prepare an Alias Summons and in most cases, it will then be necessary to have the Sheriff serve the Alias Summons. An Alias Summons will cost $5.00. The plaintiff and/or the plaintiff's attorney must always appear on the summons return date, regardless of whether or not service has been made. (Failure to appear may result in the case being dismissed for want of prosecution).
Before the trial you should prepare your case so you can make a clear and understandable presentation to the Judge. You should bring any papers, pictures or other physical objects which have something to do with your case and show them to the Judge. To help you organize your thoughts it may be beneficial to write down the facts of the case ahead of your court date. If you have time, observe a small claims court session before the date of your hearing. You may also bring witnesses to testify in support of your case. A witness is someone who can help explain why you should win the case. Make sure that your witness shows up on the exact date and time for the trial. If a witness is necessary for your case and is reluctant to come to court, you may need to have a subpoena issued. (This is a order of the Court commanding a person to appear and testify at a trial.) In order for a subpoena to be legal you must advance the statutory witness fee and mileage to and from the courthouse at the time of service on the witness.
Be sure to remember the exact date and time of your court date and be on time. If you fail to appear for the trial, you may lose the case.
Once a judgment has been collected, you should obtain a satisfaction/release of judgment form from our forms page. This form needs to be filled out, signed, and filed with the Court. You should also mail a copy of the form to the defendant.
If you are the plaintiff, and the judge decides in your favor, the judge can order the person you have sued to pay you the money that is owed. The judge's decision in the case is called a judgment. If the Court has awarded a judgment in your favor, you should ask the defendant to pay you immediately. If the defendant is not present, you should let them know that a judgment has been awarded to you and request that they pay you.
A trial in the Small Claims Court is a simple and somewhat informal court hearing during which the Judge listens to both parties as well as their witnesses and examines any physical objects or documents that they have brought and then decides the case. The plaintiff and his/her witness go first, followed by the defendant any witnesses he or she may have. If the defendant fails to appear for trial, the Judge may award judgment for the plaintiff. If the plaintiff fails to appear, the case may be dismissed. When testifying, try not to be nervous and speak slowly and speak so the Court can hear you. The Judge may ask questions; if so, answer them as clearly and directly as you can.
If you and the defendant(s) reach an agreement on how much they are going to pay that is called a settlement. If you receive your settlement money before the court date, you must come to court prior to the court date or on the court date to have case the dismissed. If the case has been settled but you have not received your money, you should come to court and ask the judge to continue the case until you have received your money. Once you receive your money, you must come to court to have your case dismissed.
If the defendant refuses to pay you the money you were awarded in the judgment, you must begin collection proceedings against him or her. Neither the Court nor the Clerk will collect the money for you.
If you know where the defendant is employed, collection proceedings may be done with a wage deduction summons. If you know where the defendant has bank accounts, collection may be done with a non-wage garnishment summons. The parties to whom you direct the Wage Deduction Summons or Non-Wage Garnishment Summons must file a sworn answer with the Circuit Clerk's Office. After that document has been filed, you must appear in court and the Court will then enter a Judgment against the garnishee (defendant) for the amount shown in the sworn return and give you a turn over order. A certified copy of this order should be sent to the garnishee. You may use this step as often as necessary for the collection of the total judgment awarded plus the additional costs.
If you do not know where the defendant works, has bank accounts, or owns property, you may have the Clerk issue a citation to discover assets. This requires the defendant to appear in court where he/she will be placed under oath and must answer questions from you concerning employment, locations of banking accounts and other sources of income, as well as property he or she may own.
The Circuit Clerk's Office is able to provide you with the necessary forms for the collection of a judgment. Post judgement collection forms can be found at Illinois Courts website. Any additional costs of collection can be added to the amount recoverable from the defendant, but if the defendant is truly without assets, you may end up wasting additional money. Make sure that the person you are suing has assets, income or property before you file your complaint.
If the defendant is a corporation, you must serve an officer of the corporation or its registered agent. You may also obtain this information by calling the Corporate Search Department of the Illinois Secretary of State at 312-793-3380. Remember that often people are employees of someone else, another person or a corporation, and it may be that their employer is the one responsible for you claim. So, always be sure to sue the right party.
Before filing the complaint, you should make sure that the defendant has money, income, or property so that if the Judge decides in your favor, your judgment will be collectible. If you win your case, the judge may award you the costs of bringing the suit as well as the money you are seeking.
You should also make sure that you are suing the proper party. If you have any questions, it is generally inexpensive to consult an attorney before filing your complaint.
Generally speaking, complaints must be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in the county in which the incident, transaction, or part of either took place. You must file the complaint with the Clerk of the Circuit Court within that county. You must then serve the defendant with the complaint and a summons.
If the defendant resides or is located within Rock Island County, certified mail may be used for service. If the defendant lives outside of Rock Island County, you may be allowed to sue him or her in Rock Island County, but they must be served by the sheriff of the county where they live.
Our Illinois Constitution prohibits a judge from putting a person in jail for a non-willful failure to pay a debt. Therefore, if a person does not have money, income, or property, there is no legal way for the court to help you get the money owed to you. It is wise to make sure a judgment can be collected before paying the costs of filing a lawsuit.
The forms you need to file a Small Claims Complaint can be obtained from the Circuit Clerk's Office, located on the 1st floor of the Justice Center. You can pick them up or they can be mailed to you if you provide a self addressed stamped envelope to the Clerk of the Court with a request for the forms. You may also download the form from our Court Forms page.
The Small Claims Court is located in the Rock Island County Justice Center, 1317 3rd Avenue, Rock Island, Illinois. Ask a bailiff or deputy for directions, if necessary.
Anyone can file a lawsuit in the Small Claims Court if the amount claimed is not more than $10,000.00. If someone owes you money or has damaged you in some way for not more than $10,000.00, you can file a lawsuit in the Small Claims Court.
If you choose to act as your own attorney or self-represented, you must do all the investigation and preparation normally done by an attorney. This includes representing yourself in Court, securing witnesses, collecting documents, photographs and any other items you will need to present your case before the Court. The Judge and the Clerk must remain neutral in all disputes. They are not permitted to assist you in accomplishing any of the steps.