Chapter 1925: SMALL CLAIMS DIVISIONS

1925.01 Small claims division established.

(A) Each municipal and county court shall establish a small claims division.

(B) Proceedings in the small claims division of a municipal court or a county court may be conducted by a magistrate appointed by the court. The magistrate shall be a person admitted to the practice of law in this state and shall receive the annual compensation that the court prescribes. In the case of a municipal court magistrate, the compensation shall be payable from the same sources and in the same manner as provided in section 1901.11 of the Revised Code. A part-time village solicitor or city director of law or part-time assistant village solicitor or city director of law of any municipal corporation may be appointed as a magistrate, serve in any case in which the municipal corporation is not an interested party, and receive the prescribed compensation.

(C) Except in the Cleveland municipal court, the court may appoint an administrative assistant for the small claims division, who shall perform the duties that are assigned by the court. In the Cleveland municipal court, the clerk of the court is the administrative assistant for the small claims division and shall perform the duties in that capacity that are assigned by the court.

(D) The appearance of an attorney at law on behalf of any party is permitted but not required. Notice to the attorney of record for a party is equivalent to notice to the party.

(E) The court may establish, by rule, procedures for hearing actions in the small claims division during evening hours on one weekday, or on Saturday. A division that has established voluntary conciliation procedures under section 1925.03 of the Revised Code may devote a portion of its evening or Saturday hours to conciliation procedures.

(F) A municipal or county court that has over two hundred fifty thousand persons within its territorial jurisdiction may establish neighborhood offices of the small claims division and may establish, by rule, times and procedures for holding sessions of the division at the neighborhood offices. If neighborhood offices are established, the legislative authority of the municipal court establishing the office, as defined in section 1901.03 of the Revised Code, and the board of county commissioners of the county in which the county court establishing the office is located may provide suitable accommodations and facilities for the neighborhood offices, as provided in sections 1901.36 and 1907.19 of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 10-17-1996

1925.02 Jurisdiction.

(A)

(1) Except as provided in division (A)(2) of this section, a small claims division established under section 1925.01 of the Revised Code has jurisdiction in civil actions for the recovery of taxes and money only, for amounts not exceeding three thousand dollars, exclusive of interest and costs.

(2)

(a) A small claims division does not have jurisdiction in any of the following:

(i) Libel, slander, replevin, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process actions;

(ii) Actions on any claim brought by an assignee or agent, except a claim to recover taxes that is filed by any authorized employee of a political subdivision or any authorized officer or employee of the state or a claim filed by a person designated under section 1925.18 of the Revised Code to act as the representative of a prosecuting attorney;

(iii) Actions for the recovery of punitive or exemplary damages.

(b) Division (A)(2)(a) of this section does not exclude actions for the recovery of damages specifically authorized by division (B) of either section 1345.09 or 1345.48 of the Revised Code from the jurisdiction of a small claims division.

(3) The territorial jurisdiction and venue of a small claims division are concurrent with that of the respective court under its procedures in ordinary civil actions. Jurisdiction over the person of a defendant may not be obtained by any form of published or substituted service or warrant of attorney.

(B) A counterclaim or cross-claim of three thousand dollars or less does not affect the jurisdiction of a small claims division. If a counterclaim or cross-claim exceeds three thousand dollars and if the case is transferred to the regular docket of the court, the court, if it finds that the counterclaim or cross-claim was without substantial grounds, may award reasonable attorney's fees by special order to the party against whom the counterclaim or cross-claim is instituted, if that party prevails in the action on that claim.

(C) Any person who files a counterclaim or cross-claim shall file it with the small claims division and serve it on all other parties at least seven days prior to the date of the trial of the plaintiff's claim in the original action.

(D) As used in this section:

(1) "Person" has the same meaning as in division (C) of section 1.59 of the Revised Code and also includes governmental entities.

(2) "Political subdivision" and "employee" of a political subdivision have the same meanings as in section 2744.01 of the Revised Code.

(3) "State" has the same meaning as in section 109.36 of the Revised Code.

(4) "Officer or employee of the state" means any person who is serving in an elected or appointed office or position with the state or is employed by the state. "Officer or employee of the state" does not include any person elected, appointed, or employed by any political subdivision.

Effective Date: 03-22-1999

1925.03 Voluntary conciliation procedures.

The court may establish, by rule, voluntary conciliation procedures for the small claims division, except that it shall establish, by rule, voluntary conciliation procedures for the recovery of taxes in the small claims division.

Effective Date: 09-09-1988

1925.04 Commencing an action.

(A) An action is commenced in the small claims division when the plaintiff, or the plaintiff's attorney, states the amount and nature of the plaintiff's claim to the court as provided in this section. The commencement constitutes a waiver of any right of the plaintiff to trial by jury upon such action. At the time of the commencement of an action, the plaintiff, or the plaintiff's attorney, shall pay both of the following:

(1) A filing fee as determined by the court;

(2) The sum required by division (C) of section 1901.26 or division (C) of section 1907.24 of the Revised Code.

(B) The plaintiff, or the plaintiff's attorney, shall state to the administrative assistant or other official designated by the court, the plaintiff's and the defendant's place of residence, the military status of the defendant, and the nature and amount of the plaintiff's claim. The claim shall be reduced to writing in concise, nontechnical form. Such writing shall be signed by the plaintiff, or the plaintiff's attorney, under oath.

A memorandum of the time and place set for trial shall be given to the person signing the writing. The time set for such trial shall be not less than fifteen or more than forty days after the commencement of the action.

If taxes are sought to be recovered in the action, an authorized employee of a political subdivision or an authorized officer or employee of the state, as defined in section 1925.02 of the Revised Code, may commence the action. If an action is brought on behalf of a county department of job and family services, a representative of the prosecuting attorney of the county, designated under section 1925.18 of the Revised Code, may commence the action.

Effective Date: 07-01-2000

1925.05 Service of notice of filing.

(A) Notice of the filing shall be served on the defendant as provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure. The notice after setting forth the name of the court, shall read substantially as follows:

"To (here insert the name of defendant or defendants).

(Here insert the name of plaintiff or plaintiffs) ask judgment in this court against you for (here insert the amount claimed in dollars and cents) upon the following claim (here insert the nature of the claim, but no list of items need be included).

The court will hold trial upon this claim at (here insert where and the room number, as may be necessary) at (here insert the hour) on (here insert the date, including the day of the week).

If you do not appear at the trial, judgment may be entered against you by default, and your earnings may be subjected to garnishment or your property may be attached to satisfy the judgment. If your defense is supported by witnesses, account books, receipts, or other documents, you must produce them at the trial. Subpoenas for witnesses, if requested by a party, will be issued by the clerk.

If you admit the claim but desire time to pay, you may make such a request at the trial. If you believe you have a claim against the plaintiff, you must file a counterclaim with the court and must serve the plaintiff and all other parties with a copy of the counterclaim at least seven days prior to the date of the trial of the plaintiff's claim."

(B) If the notice is returned undelivered or if in any other way it appears that notice has not been received by the defendant, at the request of the plaintiff or his attorney, a further notice shall be issued, setting the trial for a subsequent date, to be served in the same manner as a summons is served in an ordinary civil action. The court may charge an additional fee if further notices are issued.

Effective Date: 06-23-1992

1925.06 Stay of execution to permit deferred payment.

A defendant who admits the claim but desires time in which to pay, may state that fact at the time set for trial, and where this is done, judgment may be entered for the plaintiff at the time set for trial, and this request may be considered by the court in determining whether there shall be a stay of execution to permit deferred payment or a weekly order of payment.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.07 No attachment proceedings.

No attachment proceedings will be permitted prior to judgment in any case pending before the small claims division.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.08 [Repealed].

Effective Date: 03-22-1999

1925.09 Amendments - no depositions or interrogatories.

The court, before judgment or upon vacation of a judgment, may allow any claim to be amended. No deposition or interrogatories shall be taken except by leave of court.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.10 Transferring case.

(A) A civil action that is duly entered on the docket of the small claims division shall be transferred to the regular docket of the court upon the motion of the court made at any stage of the civil action or by the filing of a counterclaim or cross-claim for more than three thousand dollars.

(B) In the discretion of the court, a case duly entered on the docket of the small claims division may be transferred to the regular docket of the court upon the motion of a party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim is instituted or upon the motion of a third-party defendant. A motion filed under this division shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating that a good defense to the claim exists, setting forth the grounds of the defense, and setting forth the compliance of the party or third-party defendant with any terms fixed by the court. The failure to file a motion under this division to transfer a case to the regular docket of the court constitutes a waiver by the party or third-party defendant of any right to a trial by jury.

Effective Date: 01-01-1997

1925.11 Subpoenas fees and services.

Subpoenas for witnesses, if requested, shall be issued by the clerk, or by order of the court or referee. The court may require the party requesting the issuance of a subpoena to pay a fee to cover the actual cost of issuance and service.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.12 Dismissal for want of prosecution.

If the plaintiff does not appear at the time set for trial, the court may dismiss the claim for want of prosecution, or enter a finding on the merits for the defendant, or make such other disposition as may be proper. The judgment of the small claims division shall be recorded in the same manner and shall have the same force and effect as any other judgment of the court.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.13 Collecting and enforcing judgments.

(A) The court, in its discretion, may order that the judgment, interest, and costs be paid at a certain date or by specified weekly installments, and, during compliance with the order, the court may stay the issue of execution and other proceedings in aid of execution. The court may modify or vacate the stay at any time.

Except as otherwise provided in this section, a judgment creditor may commence any proceedings to obtain satisfaction of the judgment, including execution and garnishment proceedings, that are permitted to obtain satisfaction of a judgment rendered in an ordinary civil action. In the case of an action commenced by a county department of job and family services employee designated under section 1925.18 of the Revised Code to represent the prosecuting attorney of the county in commencement of the action, the county department of job and family services is the judgment creditor.

If an authorized employee of a political subdivision or an authorized officer or employee of the state, as defined in section 1925.02 of the Revised Code, prevails in an action to recover taxes, the authorized person may use any means provided by law to obtain satisfaction of the judgment, including the provisions of division (B) of this section.

If a party is not represented by counsel, the court, upon payment of court costs, shall explain to the parties and assist the parties in the preparation and filing of, and supply the parties with any necessary forms for, proceedings in aid of execution to collect and enforce judgments.

(B) If, within thirty days after judgment, the judgment is not satisfied and the parties have not otherwise agreed, the court, upon the request of the judgment creditor, shall order the judgment debtor to file, on a form prepared by the court, a list of the judgment debtor's assets, liabilities, and personal earnings. The form shall contain a notice that failure to complete the form and return it to the court within one week after receipt may result in a citation for contempt of court. Any party who, with notice of the possible contempt citation, willfully fails to comply with the order of the court may be cited for contempt of court as provided in Chapter 2705. of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 07-01-2000

1925.14 Modification or vacation of judgments.

Judgments of the small claims division may be modified or vacated in the same manner as other civil actions.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.15 Costs.

The actual disbursements of the prevailing party for filing fees, execution fees, and other court fees may be allowed as costs. No other costs shall be allowed either party except by special order of the court. Costs allowed under this section may be apportioned between the parties, or waived, in whole or in part, as the court determines to be equitable.

Effective Date: 11-21-1967

1925.151 Cancellation of uncollectibe debts.

If at any time the court finds that an amount owing to the court is due and uncollectible, in whole or in part, the court may direct the clerk of the court to cancel all or part of the claim. The clerk shall then effect the cancellation.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.169, HB 247, §1, eff. 3/22/2013.

1925.16 Applicability of Rules of Civil Procedure.

Except as inconsistent procedures are provided in this chapter or in rules of court adopted in furtherance of the purposes of this chapter, all proceedings in the small claims division of a municipal court are subject to the Rules of Civil Procedure, and Chapter 1901. and sections 2307.06 and 2307.07 of the Revised Code, and all proceedings in the small claims division of a county court are subject to the Rules of Civil Procedure, Chapter 1907., and sections 2307.06 and 2307.07 of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 03-17-1987

1925.17 Corporation as party.

A corporation which is a real party in interest in any action in a small claims division may commence such an action and appear therein through an attorney at law. Such a corporation may, through any bona fide officer or salaried employee, file and present its claim or defense in any action in a small claims division arising from a claim based on a contract to which the corporation is an original party or any other claim to which the corporation is an original claimant, provided such corporation does not, in the absence of representation by an attorney at law, engage in cross-examination, argument, or other acts of advocacy.

Effective Date: 10-24-1969

1925.18 County department of job and family services employee.

(A)

(1) Subject to division (A)(2) of this section, a prosecuting attorney of a county may designate any employee of a county department of job and family services to act as the prosecuting attorney's representative in the commencement and prosecution or defense of any action in the small claims division of a municipal or county court on behalf of the department.

(2)

(a) If the prosecuting attorney designates as the prosecuting attorney's representative an employee of the department who is not an attorney, the employee may file and present the claim or defense of the department in the action if the employee does not, in the absence of the representation of the department by an attorney, engage in cross-examination, argument, or other acts of advocacy.

(b) If the prosecuting attorney designates as the prosecuting attorney's representative an employee of the department who is an attorney, the employee may file and prosecute or defend fully the claim or defense of the department in the action.

(B) Division (A) of this section does not preclude the appearance of the prosecuting attorney on behalf of a county department of job and family services as provided in section 309.09 of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 07-01-2000