I understand that they recently changed the amount to sue in Small Claims Court. How much are the limits now?
Small claims cases in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have a limit of $7,000.00. This dollar limit does not apply to property damage cases caused by a motor vehicle. In addition, the small claims venue is suitable for matters involving torts or contracts but not cases involving slander or libel.
In general, the overall Small Claims Court purpose is to provide a simple and prompt mechanism for parties to resolve disputes. The small claims process begins when a party files a complaint form with the District Court and pays a filing fee. The complaint should succinctly outline the claim and place the Defendant, the party being sued, on notice as to the issues. Thereafter, the court serves the Defendant and provides all parties notice of a trial date.
On the trial date, before starting a trial, the court might suggest mediation—a voluntary process where a neutral party, a mediator, works with the parties in an attempt to resolve a dispute through a mutually agreeable resolution. Otherwise, a trial will ensue. The trial is not as formal as proceedings in the District Court or Superior Court and the court rules are generally relaxed. At trial, you will have the opportunity to describe to the court your claim and the opposing party will have the opportunity to offer a defense.
This article only provides an abbreviated overview of the small claims process. Moreover, there are a myriad of issues not discussed in this article. For example, issues involving lawsuits against consumers, issues regarding consumer actions against businesses, issues as to where to sue or which party to sue are all salient questions to consider.
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