SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURES AND INSTRUCTIONS The Judge’s decision in Small Claims Court is final and cannot be appealed If the following information does not answer your questions, you may call the Oregon State Bar tape library at 1-800-452-4776 (tape #1061). The website Oregon.gov has several useful resources including Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules. The court clerk may answer questions about Small Claims filing procedures, but is prohibited from giving legal advice. Small Claims are filed to resolve disputes between parties without an attorney. Neither party may be represented in Small Claims Court without special permission of the Judge. The claim may be filed for any monetary amount or property value of $7,500.00 or less. The party filing the claim is the plaintiff; the party being sued is the defendant. To initiate (start) the case, the plaintiff must fill out the Claim and Notice of Claim form and pay the required filing fee. The claim must be signed in the presence of the Trial Court Administrator or a Notary Public. Filing Fees: Make your check or money order payable to STATE OF OREGON Claim of $0.00 to $1,500.00 ………………………….…$46.50 Claim of $1,500.01 to $7,500.00 ……………….………$86.50 Filing in the proper County: If you are able to answer “YES” to one of the following questions, you may file your claim in Clackamas County. 1. Does the defendant(s) live in Clackamas County? 2. Did the incident happen in Clackamas County? 3. When the claim is based on a contract, the defendant(s) must have contracted to perform an obligation under the contract in Clackamas County. Who should you name as a defendant(s): When filing a claim, it is necessary that the name of the defendant(s) be correct. You must also provide an address for the defendant(s). Some possible ways to name the Defendant(s) are: 1. As an individual (be sure of spelling); 2. As an individual, doing business as; 3. As an individual, formerly doing business as; 4. As an individual, individually and doing business as; 5. As an individual, individually and formerly doing business as; and 6. As a corporation. To serve the corporation, you must know the name of the Registered Agent for the corporation. You may be able to obtain this information from the Oregon Corporation Division in Salem at 503-986-2200 or www.sos.state.or.us/corporation. It is up to you to determine this information. The Court cannot do this for you. Service of Claim and Notice of Claim: The plaintiff must notify the defendant(s) that a case has been filed. This is known as service. There are four options for service; personal, substituted, office or certified mailing. Service can be made by the sheriff of the county where the defendant(s) can be found; by any competent person 18 years of age or older who is a resident of the State of Oregon and is not a party to the action nor an officer, director, employee of or attorney for any party, corporate or otherwise; or by certified mail. If you chose to have the sheriff serve and defendant(s) will be served outside of Clackamas County you will need to contact the appropriate sheriff office in the area you wish to serve: 1. Personal Service: Personal service may be made by delivery of a true copy of the Claim and Notice of Claim to the person you are serving. 2. Substituted Service: Substitute service may be made by leaving a true copy of the Claim and Notice of Claim at the dwelling house or usual place of abode of the person to be served with any person over the age of 14 years who resides there. If substitute service is made, the plaintiff shall mail a true copy of the notice of claim to the defendant at his/her usual place of abode together with a written statement of the date, time and place at which substitute service was made. This is to be done by first class mail (not certified mail). An affidavit or certificate of mailing must then be submitted to the court showing the date that it was mailed. 3. Office Service: If a defendant(s) maintains an office where she/he conducts business, office service may be made by delivering a true copy of the Claim and Notice of Claim to such office during normal working hours and leaving it with the person in charge. Plaintiff must then immediately mail a true copy of the Claim and Notice of Claim to the defendant at the home address together with a statement of the date, time and place at which office service was made. This is to be done by first class mail (not certified mail). An affidavit or certificate of mailing must then be submitted to the courts showing the date that it was mailed. After the sheriff serves the papers, their office will notify you and the Trial Court Administrator that service has been made. If service is made by other than the sheriff, proof of service shall be made by filing a certificate with the Trial Court Administrator's Office, pursuant to ORCP 7 F(2) (i). The original proof of service must be filed with the court once you receive it for your case to proceed. If proof of service is not received within 35 days of filing your claim, after written notice to you, the case may be dismissed. If a dismissal for want of prosecution is entered you must re- file and pay all applicable fees to pursue your case. In order to avoid your case being dismissed, be prepared and evaluate the claim and research for valid addresses prior to filing. 4. Certified Mail: If service by certified mail is attempted, the plaintiff shall mail to each defendant, a true copy of the Claim and Notice of Claim by certified mail addressed to each defendant at the last known mailing address of defendant. The envelope shall be marked with the words "Deliver to Addressee Only" and "Return Receipt Requested." Check with the post office for the cost. Proof of service by certified mail needs to be filed in court by filing the proof of service including the original green card containing the defendant’s own legible signature, date of receipt and case number. If service by certified mail is not successfully accomplished, the notice and claim shall be served in the manner provided for the service of summons and complaint in proceedings in the circuit courts. Service fee: Make your check or money order payable to the server: Clackamas County Sheriff’s fee for the first two parties served at the same location is $28.00. For each single party served thereafter at the same location is an additional $15.00. After Service: The defendant(s) has fourteen (14) days from personal service or seventeen (17) days from the date of mailing following substitute or office service to do one of the following: 1. Admit the claim and pay the plaintiff in full, including court costs (filing fee and service fee); 2. Deny the claim and request a hearing; 3. Deny the claim and request a hearing and file a counterclaim; or 4. Demand a jury trial (on claims over $750.00 only) Request for hearing: If the Defendant(s) request a hearing, you will be notified by mail of the date and time to appear for that hearing. If you cannot appear at the time set, you must specify a good reason in writing to the court at least seven (7) days prior to the hearing date. Request for hearing and file a counterclaim: The defendant in an action in the Small Claims Department may assert as a counterclaim any claim that, on the date of issuance of notice pursuant to ORS 46.445, the defendant may have against the plaintiff and that arises out of the same transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the claim filed by the plaintiff. Request for Jury Trial (If claim is over $750.00): If the defendant claims the right to a jury trial, the clerk shall mail to the plaintiff a notice to file a formal complaint. The Court does not supply forms or samples of formal complaints. You may wish to contact an attorney or perform research at the law library for information on filing a formal complaint. (a) Within twenty (20) days after the mailing of the notice, the plaintiff must file the formal complaint with the court and serve by mail a summons and copy of the complaint on the defendant at the designated address of the defendant. Proof of service must be filed by the plaintiff with the court at the time of filing of the complaint. Proof of service may be made by filing a certificate of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney with the complaint. (b) The plaintiff's claim in the formal complaint filed pursuant to subsection (a) above is not limited to the amount stated in the claim filed in the small claims department, but the claim in the formal complaint must relate to the same controversy. (c) The defendant must file an appearance in the matter within ten (10) days after the date on which the summons and copy of the complaint would be delivered to the defendant in due course of mail. Thereafter the cause shall proceed as other causes in the Circuit Civil Court, and costs and disbursements shall be allowed and taxed. Please be aware that further filing fees will be due upon filing the formal complaint and the response to same. Default Process: The plaintiff in a small claims case may file a request for default judgment if the defendant has not filed a response within fourteen (14) days from the date the claim was personally served on the defendant or within seventeen (17) days after the date of mailing required by substitute or office service. After Judgment: Once judgment is entered, it is enforceable for a period of ten (10) years. If you have not collected within that time, the judgment may be extended for another ten (10) years upon filing a Certificate of Extension with the Court prior to the judgment expiring. Collection of Judgment: The party to whom a judgment is awarded may be able to collect the judgment by using one or all of the procedures below: 1. Garnishing wages or a bank account (see Filing a Writ of Garnishment information sheet included in this instruction packet). 2. Having the sheriff seize personal property. 3. Placing a lien against defendant's real property. Small Claims judgments over $3,000.00 automatically become a lien against real property. If you wish your judgment to become a lien against real property and your judgment is under $3,000.00 you will need to request that the clerk note in the register of action and in the judgment lien record that the judgment creates a judgment lien by filing a request to transcribe judgment and file a certificate of lien in said case. 4. Having the defendant's drivers license suspended. If a debtor fails to satisfy a small claims judgment for damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident within 60 days of judgment, the creditor can request in writing that the court send a certificate to the Driver and Motor Vehicles Division (DMV) stating that the judgment has not been satisfied. The DMV will then suspend the debtor’s license to drive until the court notifies them that the judgment has been settled or satisfied. The request must be in writing and must include the driver’s license number of the debtor. FORMS FOR THE ABOVE COLLECTION PROCEDURES ARE NOT AVAILABLE AT THE COURT HOUSE! A fee is required for filing these procedures through the court. Your attorney may be of assistance in helping you collect a judgment. If you do not have an attorney you may call the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 503- 684-3763. SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT: When your judgment is paid in full, a Satisfaction of Judgment form must be filed with the court. Satisfaction forms are available in the Small Claims instruction packet. ** NOTE** PLAINTIFF: Upon filing your small claim case, please list on a separate sheet of paper for the clerk any dates that you would be unavailable for a hearing should the defendant file an answer to the claim requesting a hearing.
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