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Jack R.
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Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  Court Mediator, foreclosure attorney
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Question about procedures for small claims court in general: 1)

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Question about procedures for small claims court in general:

1) I know I will pay a file fee of modest amount and pay to deliver the summons (all considered court fees which can potentially be repaid if I win). As I am suing a corporation, I am a bit concerned they might start calling witnesses, possibly even request a move to a higher court, etc. In that case, would those be considered court costs that if I lose, I would be responsible to pay them? This would seem unfair as my whole point of S.C. court is to avoid high costs but I want to make sure.

2) My court's limit is $10,000 so I am suing for $9970 + court costs. I've made it pretty clear in a demand letter I'm sending first that I've underestimated part of the damages (which is my right from my understanding). If they do in fact request that this be brought to a higher court, would I be allowed to amend my amount to some number above $10,000 since they were the ones that wanted to ratchet things up?

3) If I do in fact lose, can I appeal the decision, especially if I gain more information down the road to strengthen my case? I would guess I can't turn around and sue for a lot more money in a higher court if I have a now very strong case (I wouldn't spend the time or money to this if it wasn't now a slam dunk) but is that accurate?

4) If I do appeal, would this go back to S.C. court or could I appeal to a higher court? How long would I have to appeal? Is it still covered under the initial statute of limitations (5 years give my situation) or does a new or different clock start?

5) Finally, how do I go about finding more information out about the specific rules for my circuit court's small court proceedings (things like jurisdiction, rules for witness fees if they travel, what types of claims are specifically allowed (breach of contract, etc)?). My understanding is all the courts are about the same but there certainly are some differences court to court. My county (LaSalle, 13th circuit) in Illinois's small claims court manual gives me a lot of info but not some of what I am still interested in. I also searched the Illinois Attorney General Site and it said S.C. Court is governed by the Clerks of Court Act. I pulled this up on the general assembly site with a quick google search but it givens none of the info I'm trying to find.
Is there a place where I could get this information? I'm kind of enjoying the "Novice lawyer for a day" job so I actually would kind of like to read some of the specific laws.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Jack R. replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for choosing Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will assist you today.

 

I will try to answer your questions by number

 

1) Small claims court is still a court and you will be required to have witnesses. In most cases the Plaintiff (you) testifies as a witness, and you can call and bring other witnesses to support your case. A Plaintiff you go first. You can also call the defendant as a witness if you want.

 

After you testify the defendant gets to on his case which could include calling his witnesses.

 

If the venue is change to a higher court, the defendant will have to pay to move the case. If you win you can request all of your costs back. You must ask in your complaint for court costs to get them.

 

2) If your case is moved to another Court you can amend you complaint, you can do so once before the other side answers, After than you need to ask the Court's permission ( motion for leave to amend Complaint). These tend to be approved without much difficulty.

 

 

3/4) Appeals go through the appellate court. If an appeal is lost the lower court decision remains. Of the appeal is won, then the case goes back to the lower court to be heard again for the items the appellate court found incorrect.

 

4) You should familiarize yourself with the Illinois Rules of Evidence and the Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure. That in conjunction with the local rules and the small claims manual should be enough. The other thing you can and should do is attend a small claims hearing. In most cases hearings are open to the public. Just sit in back of the Court and observe. It will put you more at ease.

 

 

 

 

Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for your quick reply. That is very helpful.


 


A couple quick points of clarification though


1) I am suing 2 sister corporations. They will be required to have attorneys but will an official with knowledge of the case be required to be there as well (a high level employee I have dealt with multiple times for example)? Can I bring a witness (my sister) to court that day without doing the whole summons and fee thing if she will go with me?


 


2) I read somewhere (not my county) that if you summon a witness, there's a nominal fee + travel costs of in this example 20 cents per mile. I can make a strong case (with the aid of this site!) for my choice of venue in Illinois but any employees would be coming from Texas or Arkansas. That would be hundreds of dollars per witness. I understand I could get this back if I win but since I'm at risk of losing, I wouldn't call those people myself.


 


The big question though is if the corporation calls the witnesses requiring long travel and they win, would those big travel fees be turned over to me?


 


Thanks again.

Expert:  Jack R. replied 8 months ago.

No the travel fees belong to the defendant as will the attorneys fees in most cases and any other fees associated with the trial.

 

Jack R., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6147
Experience: Court Mediator, foreclosure attorney
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