The civil division of the court is available to the general public and local businesses to bring a claim against another party. Typical claims involve money. The party initiating the case is called the Plaintiff. The party against whom the matter is being brought is called the Defendant.
There is a cost for filing a case with the court. This cost is paid by the Plaintiff, but can usually be recovered as part of any judgment that is issued against the defendant.
Within the Civil Division there are four case types:
General Civil Actions
These actions are used to settle financial disputes between parties in which the amount does not exceed $25,000. Individuals have the option of hiring an attorney or representing themselves. An attorney must represent corporations. Decisions can be appealed to Circuit Court.
Landlord - Tenant
Landlord/Tenant (Summary Proceedings) are actions to recover possession of premises (eviction) and to obtain certain types of ancillary relief (damages, back rent). They also pertain to land contracts and are used when a party fails to comply with the terms of the contract. Corporations must have an attorney. Individuals have the option of hiring an attorney or representing themselves. Decisions can be appealed to the Circuit Court.
The Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan offers another way to resolve disagreements. They help people solve their differences peacefully and constructively, using the services of a trained mediator. This mediator brings both parties together for discussion, and together they create their own solution to the problem.
Please visit their website at www.drcwm.org for more information.
Small Claims are limited to cases in which the amount of claim does not exceed $5,000. No lawyers are allowed in Small Claims actions and all decisions are final. There is no appeal process.