Small Claims Division
Phone Number: (419) 627-5927
Small Claims Court is a division of the Sandusky Municipal Court and is governed by Chapter 1925 of the Ohio Revised Code, Rule 53 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rule 101 (C) (8) of the Ohio Rules of Evidence.
The jurisdiction of the Sandusky Municipal Court includes the city of Sandusky, Perkins Township, the villages of Bay View and Castalia. In order to file a small claim in Sandusky Municipal Court the 'action' had to have taken place within one of the above locations.
Small Claims Court provides a quick, inexpensive and informal way of resolving various types of disputes with other individuals or companies. Various complaints heard in Small Claims Court include insurance claims, damage done to property, unreturned rental deposits, undelivered goods, repair problems, breach of warranty, defective products, etc.
You must be able to put a price on any damages you may have suffered as a result of the Defendant's actions and you must provide documentation to support the amount you are claiming. Small Claims Court can decide claims for MONEY ONLY. The Small Claims Magistrate cannot order a Defendant to do anything other than pay a specific sum of money. The Small Claims Court does not have jurisdiction in cases involving slander, libel, repossession or in cases which do not involve monetary damages.
Small Claims Court has a limit of $6,000.00 plus interest and Court costs. You may not separate your claim into multiple suits. Cases that exceed this limit must be filed in the Civil docket of this Court or if the amount exceeds $15,000.00 it should be filed at Erie County Common Pleas Court.
If you are a minor, under 18, you must have your parent or guardian file the suit for you.
You may not sue a minor. You may sue a minor through his/her parent or legal guardian.
If you are filing a Small Claim to retrieve a rental security deposit, you cannot file if you were evicted from the premises. If you are a landlord attempting to recover back rent from an ex-tenant and you have filed an eviction case against the Defendant, the eviction case must have been dismissed without prejudice in order for you to file a small claim to collect any outstanding back rent. If a lease agreement was signed, a copy must be included with your Small Claim filing.
If you are filing for damages that resulted from an ACCIDENT and you have not had the repairs made at the time of filing, you MUST provide the Court with copies of two (2) estimates. YOU WILL FILE FOR THE LESSER AMOUNT OF THE TWO ESTIMATES.
Deputy Clerks are NOT attorneys and cannot, by law, give legal advice. If you require legal advice, you must get advice from an attorney.
Filing the Small Claims Complaint with the Court
There is a $65 FILING FEE for each Small Claims complaint (one or two defendants), which is due at the time of filing. This payment can be made by cash or check/money order made payable to Sandusky Municipal Court (check must be from Ohio). DO NOT ADD THE $65 FILING FEE TO THE AMOUNT YOU ARE SEEKING FROM THE DEFENDANT. The Court will automatically include this amount in the Judgment figure, thereby charging the filing fee to the Defendant. *There is a $10 fee assessed for each additional defendant (three or more). When you are completing the Small Claims complaint form: YOU ARE THE PLAINTIFF, THE PARTY YOU ARE FILING SUIT AGAINST IS THE DEFENDANT.
YOU MUST PROVIDE THE CURRENT COMPLETE ADDRESS FOR THE DEFENDANT(S) (including street address, apartment number, PO Box number, etc). The Court will serve the summons on the Defendant(s) by Certified Mail. The Court does NOT serve Small Claims complaints c/o employer as there is no proof that the Defendant actually receives notification of the filing of a claim. If there is a need for Personal Service of a Small Claim complaint by our bailiff/process server, there is an additional fee of $10 that must be paid prior to the issuance of the summons. DO NOT ADD THE $10 FEE TO THE AMOUNT YOU ARE SEEKING FROM THE DEFENDANT. The Court will automatically include this amount in the Judgment figure, thereby charging the Personal Service fee to the Defendant. *If the Personal Service is to be served out of our jurisdiction (i.e. by another County's Sheriff's office) there will be additional fees assessed (the amount varies by office/location).
DO NOT sign the complaint form immediately as the signature of any/all Plaintiff's MUST be witnessed by either a Notary Public or by a Deputy Clerk of the Court.
Attachments: If you are providing statements, invoices, receipts, etc with your complaint, please provide a copy for the Court, a copy for each Defendant and a copy for each Plaintiff listed on the complaint. Any additional exhibits may be brought to court on the date of the hearing.
Please be sure to sign the ‘Request for Regular Mail Service’, as this will give the Court permission to send the Summons to the Defendant by Regular Mail service if the Certified Mail attempt is returned to the Court marked “unclaimed” or “refused”.
You may ask for interest at the statutory rate (currently 4% per ANNUM). Interest is granted from the date of Judgment. The Court does not calculate interest, this will be your responsibility to compute the interest and file with the Court on a quarterly basis. If you are a business currently charging interest or finance charges on the account, at the time of filing you should add these charges for 2 months into the future as your case probably will not be on the docket prior to that time.
The Court will mail you a file-stamped copy of the complaint (with any/all attachments) as well as a notice of the hearing date/time. YOU MUST APPEAR AT THE HEARING, FAILURE TO DO SO, WILL RESULT IN THE CASE BEING DISMISSED. The hearing will be held approximately 5-6 weeks after you file your complaint with the Court, and will be held at 8:00 AM on either a TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY OR THURSDAY in the Courtroom located in the Sandusky City Building, 222 Meigs St., Sandusky, Ohio.
*Please note: If the Judgment Debtor contacts you PRIOR to the Small Claims hearing date and wishes to pay you, be sure to collect the following from them:
- the Small Claims filing fee that you paid to the Court (you keep)
- if applicable: collect the Personal Service fee that you paid the Court (you keep)
- the local Court costs due to the Court (ask the Court for this figure)
After you receive payment in full, you will need to send a written notification to the Court stating that this case has been "satisfied" and the amount due was "paid in full". This written notification should include the case number, Plaintiff name(s) and Defendant name(s) at the top. Additionally, you will need to send payment to the Court for the local Court costs (cash, check/money order made payable to Sandusky Municipal Court).
IF THE DEFENDANT FAILS TO APPEAR AT THE HEARING, YOU MAY BE GRANTED A DEFAULT JUDGMENT. You will receive a copy of the Magistrate's decision via regular mail. If a Judgment is not rendered at the time of the hearing, due to a need to further review by the Magistrate, once rendered, you will receive a copy of the Magistrate's decision by regular mail. It could take several weeks, depending on the time needed to further research the case, before a decision is made.
Once the decision has been made, both the Plaintiff(s) and the Defendant(s) have the right to appeal the Magistrate's decision. The fee to file the objection is $50.00. You, therefore, must allow at least 14 days from the time-stamped date indicated on the Judgment entry before pursuing collection.
A Judgment must be granted before any collection work can be pursued. If a Judgment is obtained in your favor and the Defendant refuses to pay, the Clerk's office will supply the Plaintiff with the necessary forms to attempt collection of the Judgment.
After the appeal time has passed, you may file a Wage Garnishment. The fee to file a Wage Garnishment is $100 (cash or check/money order made payable to Sandusky Municipal Court). This fee will be charged to the Defendant for reimbursement to the Plaintiff. For more information about filing a Wage Garnishment please contact the Court.
After the appeal time has passed, if you do not know where the Defendant works, you may file a Bank Attachment. The fee is $1 payable to the bank and the court filing fee is $25.00. For more information about filing a Bank Attachment please contact the Court. Some banks do require the Defendant's social security number in order to honor the attachment, so if you can provide the Defendant's social security number it will be helpful as the Court does not have this information.
Any funds received by the Court, will be used to pay the Court costs BEFORE any payments are forwarded to the person receiving the Judgment Order. The Court shall charge a Commission fee for receiving and disbursing money paid or deposited with the Clerk of this Court pursuance to an order of the Court. The Commission fee shall be two percent (2%) on the 1st ten thousand ($10,000) and one percent thereafter.
Small Claim cases will appear on credit reports and cannot be removed until the Judgement figure and all Court costs have been paid in full. A Satisfactory entry is needed to remove the claim from a credit report. Therefore, in addition to the Judgment figure, all Court costs must be paid before a Satisfactory entry can be filed with the Court.
If you have any further questions concerning the filing of a small claim case, please call the Small Claims Division at 419-627-5927.