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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Attorney
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Experience:  Explains legal matters based on 14+ years experience.
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Since asking the above question, I have filed a small claims

Resolved Question:

Since asking the above question, I have filed a small claims case in the jurisdiction in which my boyfriend lives. I had been open and honest with him about this and he knew he was going to be served papers. After trying to avoid service for a period of time he was finally served last Friday and we have a court date on August 29th.

The previous expert didn't make me feel all that convinced that I have a strong case by saying "my boyfriend could be responsible". I have taken photos, have physical evidence, repair bills, a chemist's report on the carpet stains (urine), etc., but I would like to know the best way to present this case. I realize small claims court is suppose to be brief and to the point.

Secondly, when he was served by the Police Officer, he told the officer that the only thing the dog had done was peed on the carpets. Can I get an affidavit from the officer and present that in court?

Lastly, where can I search for similiar cases and rulings?

This entire situation has pretty much destroyed the one year relationship and I just don't want this to come accross to the courts as a vindictive break up thing. He had been promising me all along that he would have the carpets cleaned and my wood repaired but of course he is now denying this fact.

When checking out this gentleman's previous court history he is certainly not new to the courts system and although he has a good pension he continuously moves his bank accounts arround so that when his wages have been garnished in the past - his pension cheques aren't going into the same account. (P.S. Is that a form of fraud??)

Thank you I look forward to your answers and will be available to provide any clarificationn you might require!
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer!

I am sorry to learn of your circumstances. Do you know if your small claims case will be heard by a magistrate, a district court judge, or will it go to mediation first?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

There has been no mediation set up nor offered for that matter. Quite frankly knowing him like I do, we would just be wasting the time of a mediator.


I filed the suit in the 67th District Court Genesee County. My understanding is before the hearing begins, have the right to have the case ehard by a district court judge if the hearing is scheduled before an attorney magistrate. If the case is heard by an attorney magistrate, either of have the right to appeal it within seven days.


What would you recommend that I do in this case?

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
The site rules of JustAnswer do not allow for the experts to make recommendations of such a nature. Your procedural understanding is correct, however.

In terms of presenting one's case, simply bring all of the "evidence" that you have and explain/present it in an organized fashion. Understand that the judge/magistrate will be seeing this for the first time and they probably will not have read your small claims file beforehand, so you want to explain it as you were sharing the story with your friend and walking them through it step-by-step. You may find it helpful to write out an organized outline beforehand for ease of reference.

You can ask the officer to complete an affidavit. Most likely the officer won't do it. But you can always ask. From the facts you've described, what your ex- told the officer is not relevant/critical to your case.

You will not be able to search similar cases and rulings. This is because small claims cases in Michigan are informal. They are not on the record. So, there is no point of research reference.

If you have a follow-up question, please reply and ask it.

If you are satisfied that your question has been answered, kindly select the ACCEPT button to close this thread and so that I receive credit for assisting you today.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX time period that the damages occured, the peeing on the carpets and some of the chewing occured February through May, but the majority of the damage occured during the 2 1/2 to 3 week time frame I agreed to babysit her for "the week". I have had someone suggest that if I knew the puppy was so distructive why did I agree to watch her for that week and therefore I should be responsible for the damages. Once again I know you can't give specific legal advice, but should this factor be an issue and if so - should I specifically focus just on the 2 1/2 week period of time I babysat her.


Thank you for your time and expertise

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
It should not be a factor if the damage was already done.

JB Umphrey and 2 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hello Again,


You had asked me yesterday whether my small claims case would be heard before a district court judge or a district court magistrate. I understand that an appeal can only be launched within seven days if heard before a magistrate. Section(NNN) NNN-NNNNsubsection (4) of the Michigan Legislature, "Before commencement of a trial, the plaintiff or defendant may, upon deman, require that the trial be conducted before a district court judge and not a magistrate, or may remove the case from the small claims division to the general civil division of the district court".


Knowing the facts in my case, would there be any benefit of one over the other hearing my case?

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
Not from the facts you've described.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Because of the Defendant's past and recent history paying the orders of judgement, it was suggested to me that it might be in my best interest to do a Title Search on the Defendant prior to the court case. In a recent default judgment against him in May 2011, the Plaintiff had filed a Garnishment of Wages only for it to come back "GARN DISC DEN. LIABILITY INSUFFICIENT INCOME". I am aware that he has a healthy pension income, yet is constantly moving accounts around. Does this in itself constitute a "fraud" of sort? Apparently by doing a Title Search and if I learn he owns any property, cars, boats, etc., I can make application to have my judgement paid through those means. May I request your legal opinion on this fact?



Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
No, it's not necessarily a fraud. Different ways to go about collecting on a judgment in Michigan are explained by the State Court Administrative Office at this link:
One approach that he can't get around is to garnish his state income tax refund:
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

One last question for you, I have attempted to contact the Defendant (I guess my ex-boyfriend now), in order to determine how he plans to proceed with this case.


The day prior to him being served, he told me that we would settle it up out of court.


Now he won't respond to my text or phone messages and it appears that I will have to take a day off work without pay in order to attend court. If he doesn't appear, am I able to request costs for the day I missed from work?

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
No you are not. You can only request the default judgment and show the judge the proof of the damages to support the dollar amount you are requesting. The court will then enter the judgment.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Good Morning JB,


Since the above court case is three weeks away, I am just wondering if I was to make a written offer to the defendant for a responable amount of the original claim cost, and he turns it down, assuming I win my case, how will this impact the judgement?

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
It will not affect it in any way whatsoever.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Since I am Canadian, I am unaware of the property damage laws in Michigan with the exception of Automobile Accidents which determining fault is usually not an issue.


With your expertise and experience, I am missing anything that the defendant could use as a defense which makes him NOT responsible for his dog causing the property damage?

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 6 years ago.
From the facts that you've described, it does not appear that you are missing anything. Best of wishes to you!
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