There are a number of times each week that our Deputies are asked about proper procedures regarding evictions and small claim suits. This article will attempt to clarify and simplify the laws concerning “the way to recover monies or property in a small claims suit.” Next months we will address evictions.
If a person has reached the age of 19 a “claim” may be held in the Circuit Clerk’s office of the Elmore County Judicial Building located at 8935 U.S. Highway 231 in Wetumpka. If this person is suing another on behalf of a corporation they must be an officer or full time employee of the corporation.
When you approach the desk you will be asked to fill out a “Statement of Claim” form which spells out in layman terms why you have been wronged. You may seek damages up to, but not to exceed $6,000.00. It is crucial that you be able to provide the name and address of the Defendant you wish to have served.
A filing fee must be paid to the Circuit Clerk at the time your claim is presented. That amount is dependent on the amount you seek to recover. The fee is $52.00 for claims up to $1,500.00, $126.00 up to $3,000.00 and $215 up to $6,000.00. The Deputy will them attempt to serve the defendant. When served, this Defendant has 14 days to file and answer back to the Clerk of Small Claims Court. It an answer is received the case is generally set for a court date within 30 days. You will be able to articulate to a judge, without an attorney, you statement of claim as to why you are seeking damages or restitution. There is not jury, just a judge, yourself and the defendant.
If the judge orders a judgment on your behalf and the Defendant does not pay, you may seek an Execution or a Garnishment. The execution authorizes the Sheriff’s Department to pick up and sell property the Defendant owns in order to satisfy the judgment. A Garnishment is served upon the Defendant’s place of employment of employee and monies are withheld to satisfy the judgment.
When the case is decided it is possible either you or the Defendant may disagree with he judge’s decision. Within 14 days of the judgment a “Notice of Appeal” may be filed in the Clerk’s office. This appeal will be hard in Circuit Court as opposed to the initial hearing in District Court. The party filing the appeal will be responsible for paying a filing fee and post a bond to cover any unpaid court costs.
As always, if anyone has questions regarding how to seek recover involving a claim, call our office 334-567-5546 ext. 3001 and I will discuss the matter in greater detail with you.