Small Claims

SMALL CLAIMS

2014 Small Claims Dates
            2014 Calendar for Branch II

2015 Small Claims Dates
            2015 Small Claims Calendar

Small Claims Court LOCAL Court Rules
            Small Claims Court Local Rules

Small Claims Guides
            Basic Guide
            Basic Guide for Eviction
            Basic Guide for Recovery of Money
            Basic Guide for Replevin
            Self Help Small Claims Website

Small Claims Frequently Asked Questions
           Q: How much can I sue for in Small Claims Court?
           Q: What if I need to sue for over the limit? Can I break it up into two small
          claims cases?
           Q: What's replevin?
           Q: Where do I get forms to file a lawsuit? Where do I file the case?
           Q: Do I have to hire an attorney to help me in Small Claims Court?
           Q: How much does it cost to file a case in Small Claims Court?
           Q: What if the defendant cannot be personally served?
           Q: What is a Stipulated Dismissal?
           Q:  What do I do if the defendant has not complied with the
           stipulation/agreement?
           Q: What is a default judgment?
           Q: What happens if I lose my case?
           Q: What happens if I win my case?
           Q: Can my court costs be reimbursed if I win my case?
           Q: What can I do about a judgment listed on my credit report?
           Q: How do I get a money judgment for eviction?
           Q: What if more than 15 days have elapsed from the date of entry of
           judgment and the judgment debtor has not returned the "Order for
           Financial Disclosure and Disclosure of Assets" or paid the judgment?
           Q: How do I schedule a hearing for contempt?
           Q: Do I need to appear at the contempt hearing?
           Q: May I reopen a Judgment? How?
           Q: What's a trial de novo?
           Q: What is earnings garnishment and how does it work?

 

Q: How much can I sue for in Small Claims Court?
          A: The limit is $10,000.00 for money judgments, replevins, attachments,
          garnishments and $5,000.00 for personal injury, tort, and third party
          complaints.

Q: What if I need to sue for over the limits? Can I break it up into two small claims cases?
          A: You're restricted to the small claims jurisdiction per defendant. Anything
          over the limit amount is a large claims civil case.

Q: What's a replevin?
          A: An action for the recovery of an item that hasn't been paid for or been
          wrongfully taken.

Q: Where do I get forms to file a lawsuit? Where do I file the case?
          A: To initiate a Small Claims case, go to the Self-Help Small Claims Website
          to obtain and fill out the forms. If the case involves a consumer transaction,
          it should be filed in the county where the customer lives, or where the
          purchase was made, or where the collateral is located. For other types of
          cases, it should be filed in the county where the claim arose, or where the
          property is located, or where the defendant lives or does substantial
          business.

Q: Do I have to hire an attorney to help me in Small Claims Court?
          A: It is your choice whether to retain an attorney. Representation is not
          required.

Q: How much does it cost to file a case in Small Claims Court?
          A: Various fees must be paid, and many are subject to change. Presently
          the filing fee is $94.50.

Q: What if the defendant cannot be personally served?
          A: You must fill out an amended summons and complaint to get a new court
          date.  You can then proceed with personal service again or proceed with
          publication and mailing to the defendant.  An affidavit of mailing must be
          filed with the court along with the proof of publication before the scheduled
          return date.

Q: What is a Stipulated Dismissal?
          A: A stipulated dismissal is an agreement between the parties. If the
          agreement is not followed, the plaintiff can file an affidavit of default
          wherein the judgment can be entered without notice to the defendant(s).
          Cases ending in a stipulated dismissal are still listed in the CCAP/WCCA
          database.

Q: What if the defendant does not make the payments/follow agreement,   I/We agreed to in court or prior to court. 
( There are 2 Forms,  Affidavit of Non Compliance – Money Judgment)  Affidavit of Non Compliance – Eviction)
          A:  If there is non compliance with the agreement between the parties then
          the Plaintiff needs to file and Affidavit of Non compliance and Affidavit of
          Mailing with the Clerk of Courts office  and mail a copy of the Non
          Compliance to the Defendant(s).  Once the Affidavit of Non Compliance
          and Affidavit of Mailing has been received by the Clerk of Courts the form
          is then sent down to the Judge  for signature.  Once the form is signed by
          the judge, the case is reopened and judgment entered for the amount
          indicated on the Affidavit of Non Compliance. 
          If the original Summons & Complaint was for eviction and the Stipulation
          included a date to vacate the premises then you would use the Eviction
          forms.

Q: What is a default judgment?
          A: A default judgment will be granted if the defendant does not appear for
          the initial return date of if the defendant fails to submit a written answer as
          so ordered by the court after a pretrial.

Q: What happens if I lose my case?
          A: If you lose altogether or don't get all the money or property you wanted,
          you may take your case to the court of appeals. The appeal fee is $195,
          plus a $15 record transmittal fee. You must also pay for the preparation of
          the transcript. Since an appeal is complicated, you may wish to seek legal
          advice. Please see the citizens guide for filing an appeal at:
          http://wicourts.gov/ca/citizensguide.pdf

Q: What happens if I win my case?
          A: If you win a money judgment, the Small Claims Court will order the party
          owing money under the decision to fill out a financial disclosure form and
          send it to you within 15 days after the judgment was filed. If the defendant
          doesn't pay, you may docket the judgment at the Clerk of Courts office.
          The docketed judgment then acts as a lien on the defendant's real estate
          owned in Portage County. If the defendant fails to file the required financial
          disclosure form, you can ask the court to hold the defendant in contempt.
          One of several ways to try to enforce a judgment is by "garnishment."
          Garnishment is an action to withhold part of a person's wages or bank
          accounts to pay off the judgment. A garnishment can be filed in Small
          Claims Court, just as the original case was. Part of the judgment debtor's
          wages are exempt from garnishment.

Q: Can my court costs be reimbursed if I win my case?
          A: Yes, but only some costs. You will not receive reimbursement for lost
          wages or transportation but you can receive reimbursement for the cost
          to file the case, the cost to serve the summons and petition, to subpoena
          witnesses, and for garnishment costs. You can also receive limited attorney
          fees. Please see the table in the Guide to Small Claims Court for the
          amount of reimbursement allowed for attorney fees.

Q: What can I do about a judgment listed on my credit report?
          A: If the judgment has been satisfied (Paid in Full), you may file a
          Satisfaction of Judgment form (mandatory form GF-129) and pay
          a $5.00 fee to clear the judgment.

Q: How do I get a money judgment for eviction?
          A: In a nutshell:
          File for an eviction in Small Claims court.
          Win the eviction action and obtain a judgment.
          Pay a $5 docketing fee to have the Small Claims Court put a lien on
          person's property and pay a $5 fee for a writ of assistance for the Sheriff
          to serve so you can obtain possession of the premises.
          File a motion for additional damages form with Clerk of Courts for your
          additional rent and damages within 90 days of the date that the judgment of
          eviction was granted.
          Obtain an amended judgment for additional expenses if your motion is
          granted by the court.

Q: What if more than 15 days have elapsed from the date of entry of judgment and the judgment debtor has not returned the "Order for Financial Disclosure and Disclosure of Assets" or paid the judgment?
          A: If the judgment debtor does not provide the financial disclosure statement
          as required, you may petition a judge to have the judgment debtor found in
          contempt of court.

Q: How do I schedule a hearing for contempt?
          A: Complete the contempt form at the Clerk of Courts office. The clerk will
          schedule the hearing with the next available judge on the appropriate
          schedule.  You must have the defendant personally served.

Q: Do I need to appear at the contempt hearing?
          A: If the debtor appears at the hearing, they will be instructed to complete
          the financial disclosure form. If the creditor does not appear at the hearing
          (or does not provide proof of service), the contempt can be dismissed.
          If the debtor does not file the financial disclosure statement prior to the
          hearing or appear at the hearing, the judge may issue a bench warrant.

Q: May I reopen a judgment? How?
          A: A party may reopen a default judgment within 12 months. You must file a
          petition to reopen (no filing fee). A hearing will be set to consider the
          reasons for the request to reopen.

Q: What's a trial de novo?
          A: A "trial de novo" is a retrial of a case. When a Small Claims case is heard
          by a commissioner, the commissioner will either make an oral decision at the
          hearing or mail a written decision within 30 days of the hearing. The
          commissioner will provide instructions for appealing a court commissioner's
          decision to all parties. A party may demand a new trial before a Circuit Court
          Judge (trial de novo demand) by filing a written demand for a new trial. The
          written demand must be filed within 10 working days of the commissioner's
          oral decision, or within 15 days of a written decision. The form "Demand for
          Trial De Novo" is available from the Clerk of Courts office.

Q: What is earnings garnishment and how does it work?
          A: A creditor who is trying to collect an unsatisfied civil court judgment
          against a debtor may start a garnishment action to recover the money
          owed. This may include interest and other costs, which are deducted
          from earnings payable to the debtor. The employer, who makes payment
          directly to the creditor, is called the garnishee. For example, if a court
          finds that you (debtor) owe a former landlord (creditor) back rent,
          the landlord can ask the court to order your employer (garnishee)
          to pay part of the rent you owe directly to the landlord. There are
          limits to the amount that can be taken out of each paycheck. More
          garnishment information is in the Guide to Small Claims Court.

           

Filing Fees
            List of Small Claims Fees

To Start a Small Claims Action
            Small Claims Filing Instructions
            Summons and Complaint with Instructions
            Affidavit of Non-Military
            Consumer Replevin Summons

Starting a Small Claims Action:
            Before Filing
           Where to File
           How to File a Small Claims
           How to File an Answer to a Small Claims
           Service of Summons and Complaint
           Courtroom Information
            Pre-Judgment Information on Replevin, Recovery of Money, or Eviction

 

Before filing
Before starting a small claims action it is suggested that you make a formal written demand for payment to the other party. Send a certified letter asking for settlement. Make it clear you intend to take legal action if settlement cannot be reached; informing them that all court costs will be added to the amount you are seeking. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the other party to contact you before commencing the action.
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Where to file:
Small Claims actions are filed in the county where the defendant lives or where the action took place. Landlord/tenant disputes may be taken to court in the county where the property lies or where the defendant lives.
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How to file:
In order to file a small claims action, you must provide the Clerk of Courts with the original paperwork, one copy for you to keep for your records, and two copies for each party that you are suing.
 The filing fee for a small claims action is $94.50 and is payable upon filing the case at the Clerk of Courts office. Filing fees cannot be refunded if for any reason you cannot proceed with your action. All legal questions should be directed to an attorney. The Clerk of Courts office cannot give legal advice. For the statutes governing small claims actions see Chapter799 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
If your claim is for money, it must not exceed $10,000.00 EXCEPT for a $5,000.00 limit on personal injury, tort, and third party complaints. A corporation must be represented by an attorney or a full-time employee authorized to act on its behalf. Failure to appear by the plaintiff, plaintiff’s attorney or full-time employee authorized to appear will result in a dismissal of the case. When preparing your Summons and Complaint, if you wish to attach any proof to your claim you must provide the appropriate number of copies.
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Service of Summons and Complaint
Add $2.00 per defendant  - Portage County address only. 
Any address outside of Portage County will require personal service required by the Sheriff’s Department or a Personal Process Server .  
If the address is the same for all defendants we still have to mail a copy to the address for each defendant.  We cannot mail 1 summons and complaint for multiple defendants to the same address.
If you are filing for Eviction or Replevin,  those  cases types   Personal Service on the defendant is required.

Non Service or mailing returned Undeliverable Steps for Alternate Service (Publication):
If the summons and complaint was returned undeliverable to the Clerk of Courts office you will receive notice of this.  Also, if you are unable to obtain service on the defendant these are the steps to follow.
Alternative Service is Legal Notice in the newspaper most circulated in the area the defendant last resided.   (link to Publication Notice,  Publication Summons,   Published Notice)
 You need to contact that newspaper to make arrangements for publication.  Small claims is a Class 1 notice, must run once at least business days prior to the court date, and also mailing of the summons and complaint to the defendant at their last know address.

Court Information:
Small Claims Court return dates are scheduled for the entire year ahead of time by the court handling Small Claims Cases for the year.  Please see the Small Claims Court Calendar  (Link to Calendar here)  
At the return date, if plaintiff appears and defendant does not appear, a default judgment may be granted by the court.
If plaintiff and defendant appear and the case is contested, the Judge will hear the case that morning and give a decision to the parties.
Some parties will enter into a stipulated dismissal. This can happen when a written agreement is made between the parties. The judge will dismiss the action pending that the defendant follows through with this signed agreement
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Rescheduling/Adjournment  of a Small Claims Action:
If you are the party requesting the Small Claims date be moved to a different small claims date due to conflicting schedules or any other reason you, (the moving party) needs to contact the other party involved in the Small claims action and request the small claims date be moved.  If the other party agrees to the adjournment, that party needs to contact the Small Claims clerk at 715-346-1637, and indicate they spoke with the other party and are in agreement to have the Small Claims case rescheduled.
If the party is not in agreement to rescheduling the Small Claims case, you can write a letter to the Judge, indicate that you contacted the other party and they denied your request for rescheduling.  It is then up to the court to decide if the rescheduling/adjournment is going to be granted.
A copy of your letter to the court also needs to be sent to the other party, and in your letter to the court you need to indicate that you are sending a copy to the other party involved in the action.

How to File an Answer to a Small Claims:
Pre-Judgment - Basic Steps for Filling an Answer to a Small Claims Report: 

State Form SC6040; http://www.wicourts.gov/forms1/circuit/ccform.jsp?FormName=&FormNumber=&beg_date=&end_date=&StatuteCite=&Category=38       (link to Answer & Counter claim here)

 

Pre Judgement Forms

Stipulation Documents- (Agreement Reached Between the Parties Before Court Date)
            Stipulation & Order for Dismissal (Eviction)
            Stipulation & Order for Dismissal (Non-Eviction)
            Answer Counterclaim
            Publication Notice
            Publication Summons
            Published Notice
            Answer and Counterclaim

Post Judgement Information
           

Methods of Collection, Plaintiff
            Small Claims Info to Plaintiff
            Methods of Collection
            Post Judgment Collecting on your Money Judgment
            Post Judgment Collection on your Replevin Judgment
            Post Judgment Execution Against Property Instructions

             If you missed your court date and Case was Dismissed (Plaintiff)
            OR Default Judgement was granted against you (Defendant(s)):

            Motion to Reopen (Plaintiff or Defendant)
            Petition to Answer to Reopen Small Claims Judgment (Defendant)
 

Garnishment Forms
            Basic Guide – Earnings Garnishment
            Earnings Garnishment Notice
            Instruction Sheet Once You File Garnishment
            Objection to Debtors Answer and Demand for Hearing
            Garnishee Answer to Creditor
            Debtors Answer
            Defendant Instruction Sheet
            Garnishment Exemption Notice
            Exemption Worksheet
            Poverty Guidelines
           
Non-Earnings Garnishment
            Garnishee Answer for Non-Earnings
            Non-Earnings Garnishment Notice
                       
Motion & Order for Hearing On Contempt
            Instructions for Filing Contempt
            Contempt Form

Instruction Sheet for Defendants – (If Judgment was taken against you ONLY)
            Small Claims Info for Defendant

Non-Compliance Forms- (If the Plaintiff or Defendant DOES NOT Comply with Stipulated Agreement)

            Instructions for Filing Affidavit of Non Compliance


            Affidavit of Mailing for Non-Compliance
           
            Instructions for Non-Compliance
            Affidavit of Non-Compliance with Agreement (Non-Eviction)

            Instructions for Non-Compliance Eviction
            Affidavit of Non-Compliance with Agreement (Eviction)

Other Documents
            Satisfaction of Judgment
            Satisfaction - Summary