The Clerk of Court’s Small Claims Division shall receive and/or assemble all relevant information to enable an unrepresented individual file a pleading. A party is not required to file a responsive pleading, such as an answer. The court may, in its discretion, order a party against whom a pleading is filed to file a response.
A request for a continuance of a case set for trial in the Small Claims Division shall be filed not less than seven (7) calendar days prior to the trial date. The seven (7) day period shall not include the trial date itself.
All requests for continuances shall be in writing and must include:
All requests for continuances must be signed by the party requesting the continuance or his or her attorney. A courtesy copy of the request shall also be delivered to the chief magistrate at the time of filing.
All counterclaims, cross-claims and third party complaints shall be filed with the Clerk of Court’s office at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the scheduled trial date. To file a counterclaim, cross-claim or third party complaint after the above-stated deadline, leave of court must be requested and granted. The seven (7) day period shall not include the trial date itself. Untimely filed pleadings shall be stricken from the file. The Clerk of Court shall serve all counterclaims, cross-claims and third party complaints in the same manner as service of the complaint.
Unless waived by the court for good cause, a motion to transfer to the regular docket shall accompany all timely counterclaims, cross-claims and/or third party complaints in excess of the small claims monetary jurisdiction and shall be transferred to the regular docket. Once the motion is granted, the file shall be forwarded to the Central Scheduling Department where the file shall be assigned to a judge’s personal docket. Once assigned, the defending party shall have twenty-eight (28) days to move or plead from the date of the judicial assignment.
A motion to transfer shall be filed seven (7) calendar days before the originally scheduled trial date. The seven (7) day period shall not include the trial date itself. Transfer of the case to the regular docket shall be within the discretion of the court.
An untimely motion to transfer shall be stricken from the file. A jury demand shall not be allowed in a case filed in the Small Claims Division unless accompanied by a proper and timely motion to transfer to the regular docket. The movant must be in compliance with the local rule regarding jury demands and all required fees and deposits must be paid.
A time-stamped courtesy copy of the motion to transfer shall be delivered to the chief magistrate the day of filing.
All subpoenas to be issued in a small claims case must be filed seven (7) calendar days prior to the date of trial. The seven (7) day period shall not include the trial date itself.
Any pretrial motion shall be filed seven (7) days prior to the original scheduled hearing date. The seven (7) day period shall not include the trial date itself. A time-stamped copy of any pretrial motion shall be delivered to the chief magistrate on the day of filing.
Parties are permitted to request discovery in small claims cases. Discovery is limited to interrogatories and/or depositions and must be requested by motion at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the trial date.
In accordance with Rule 53 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, the magistrate shall prepare, sign and file a magistrate’s decision for each referred matter. This decision shall be filed with the Clerk of Court and copies sent to all parties or their attorneys.
The party objecting to the magistrate’s decision shall file such objections in accordance with Rule 53 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure and pay the necessary costs.
The employees of the Clerk of Court’s office shall assist unrepresented prevailing parties in the collection of judgments obtained in the Small Claims Division. Employees of the Clerk of Court’s office may explain to the parties and assist them in the preparation and filing of any necessary forms for proceeding in aid of execution to collect and enforce judgments.
The court may in its discretion order that the judgment, interest and costs be paid pursuant to a monthly time payment schedule. During compliance with the time to pay order, the court may stay the execution of the judgment and other proceedings in execution. The stay may be modified or vacated at any time.
Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 1925.02(A)(2)(a)(ii), a Small Claims Division does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear actions on any claims brought by an assignee or agent, except a claim to recover taxes that is filed by an authorized employee of a political subdivision or any authorized officer or employee of the state, as defined in Ohio Revised Code Section 1925.08(C) or a claim filed by a person designated under Ohio Revised Code Section 1925.18 to act as the representative of a prosecuting attorney.
Except when represented by an attorney at law, a small claims action must be filed, presented and/or defended by the real party in interest. Individuals with a power of attorney, whether recorded or not, cannot represent a party in a small claims action.
The purpose of mediation is to provide an alternative for litigants to voluntarily settle their disputes. The intent is to promote expeditious case resolution, ease overcrowded dockets, minimize post judgment proceedings and maximize good community relations.
Mediations shall be scheduled and conducted consistent with the small claims court dockets and availability of mediators.
Cases may be referred to mediation based on the wishes of the parties to the case and/or the session magistrate.
Cases successfully meditated shall be disposed of by the session magistrate by way of dismissal, continuance or as otherwise provided by law or agreement of the parties. Unsuccessful mediations shall be immediately referred back to the session magistrate for trial or other disposition of the case.
All successfully mediated cases shall be memorialized by a written agreement signed by all parties to the agreement or as otherwise agreed by the parties.
Mediations shall be conducted in a confidential setting. Except at the discretion of the mediator and with consent of the parties, a witnesses may not participate in or observe the mediation. Mediation agreements shall not be placed in the official case file, but shall be separately retained in the custody of the coordinator of mediation.
If at any time after a mediation agreement is executed, one of the parties thereto believes the agreement was breached, the non-breaching party may request a hearing on the agreement which may be set for hearing in the ordinary course of the small claims court’s schedule. Ordinary mail notice shall be sent to all parties. If, at such hearing, the court determines the agreement was breached, the case may immediately proceed to trial on the agreement or the underlying claim which formed the basis of the original complaint, at the non-breaching party’s election. If the court determines there was no breach, then the court shall take appropriate action consistent with justice.
The chief magistrate or a designee is hereby authorized to promulgate mediation forms, schedules, internal procedure manuals and other related documents consistent with this rule or any other rule herein.
The court’s civil branch committee shall periodically review the procedures of the Small Claims Division to ensure its informal and uncomplicated nature. Additionally, procedures employed by the various court personnel who assist unrepresented parties shall also be subject to periodic review to ensure that the Division’s practices do not violate prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law.