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Small Claims

Mailing Address:
Jody Sellers, Clerk of Circuit Court
Russell County Judicial Center
501 14th Street
Phenix City, AL 36867
Phone: 334-298-0516








To Download Small Claims forms Click here
Next to 'Form Type', scroll down to go to Small Claims, then click GO
Requirements for filing (please type or print):
  • Original complaint
    • Copy of complaint for each defendant
    • Copy of complaint to be returned to plaintiff
  • Copy of contract or agreement (if applicable)
  • Affidavit of Damages
As a matter of law, this office cannot assist you in completion of forms.
The Small Claims Court is a special civil division of the District Court in which, individuals, as well as businesses, can settle disputes and disagreements. The maximum amount you may sue or be sued for in small claims court is $6,000.00. Procedures are simple, informal, and inexpensive. There are no juries and you may appear before the judge with or without an attorney.
The cost of filing a small claim is as follows and is broken down into a fee description, amount of claim (amount of money you are seeking). The fee is due at the time the case is filed with the court. The fees for filing a claim with more than one defendant, additional services such as garnishments, executions, and certified mail (applicable if service is to a post office box or out of state) are listed below as well.
Fee Description Claim Amount Fee at Filing
Filing Fee (One Defendant) Up to $1500.00 $ 70.00
Filing Fee (One Defendant) $1500.01 up to $3000.00 $144.00
Filing Fee (One Defendant) $3000.01 up to $6000.00 $248.00
Additional Fees Fee
Additional Defendant $15.00
Service by Sheriff on all civil filings $15.00
Additional Plaintiff ($500 max) $50.00
Dispositive Motion Fee (Over $3,000.00) $50.00
Garnishment $35.00
Execution $35.00
Certified Mail (restricted) (over 1 oz. additional postage required) $12.11
Certified Mail (non restricted) (over 1 oz. additional postage required) $  6.95
Subpoenas $17.00

 
  1. Should you file a Small Claims Case?
  2. Who can use Small Claims Court?
  3. How do you file a Small Claims Case?
  4. What happens after the claim is filed?
  5. If you are the defendant, what should you do after a claim has been filed?
  6. What should both sides do to prepare for the trial?
  7. What happens at the trial?
  8. What can you do if you disagree with the Court's judgment?
  9. If you, the plaintiff, win, how do you collect the judgment?
1. Should you file a Small Claims Case?    

Before you file a claim, attempt to settle your dispute out of court. This effort may save you both time and money. You should also find out if the person or business you plan to sue has any money or assets to pay your claim if you should win. You may have a difficult time collecting on a court judgment. It is up to the plaintiff (not the court) to take further legal action against the person or business if they do not pay the judgment.
2. Who can use Small Claims Court?    

An individual who has reached the age of 19, a partnership, or a corporation may file a claim, with or without an attorney. If a partnership files without an attorney, the person representing the partnership must be a partner or employee of the partnership. If a corporation files without an attorney, the person representing the corporation must be an officer or full-time employee of the corporation.
3. How do you file a Small Claims Case?    

You or your attorney should go to the Small Claims Division of the District Court in the county where the person or business you wish to sue lives or has an office, and file your completed Statement of Claim form. Jurisdiction lies in the county in which the defendant resides OR the county in which the transaction took place.

Once the complaint has been filed with the court, you become the "plaintiff" in the case and the person you are suing is the "defendant". You must submit the defendant's correct and complete address and/or their place of employment in order to obtain service of the complaint in a timely manner. Cases that cannot be served within 90 days are dismissed for lack of service. The clerk’s office cannot give legal advice.

You must pay a filing fee at the time the claim is filed. Filing fees are nonrefundable. If you cannot afford to prepay this fee, you may complete an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship form . If approved by the judge, prepayment of costs will not be required. All court costs will be assessed at the conclusion of the case. If you are not successful in obtaining a judgment, then you will be required to pay all costs. If you are unable to pay this at the end of the case, you should contact the clerk’s office for payment arrangements.

FILING FEES ARE NONREFUNDABLE
4. What happens after the claim is filed?    

Upon filing of a complaint, a court file will be made and the defendant’s copy will be served by the sheriff’s department or by certified mail (as requested by the plaintiff). Upon return of the service date to the clerk’s office, a notice will be forwarded to you.

The defendant has 14 days to file an answer to the complaint with the clerk's office.

If the defendant files an answer denying that any monies or property is due the plaintiff, a court date will be set on the next available docket (usually within 4 weeks).

If the defendant fails to file an answer, the plaintiff may file an Application, Affidavit and Entry of Default with the clerk’s office.

If the defendant agrees that the money or property is due the plaintiff, a consent judgment will be entered by the court.
5. If you are the defendant, what should you do after a claim has been filed?    

You may choose to settle with the plaintiff before the date the claim is set for trial. If you do settle, then the claim may be dismissed, with no judgment entered against you. If you choose not to settle or you are unable to settle, you must ANSWER the Complaint within 14 days after being served, admitting or denying all or part of the claim. Remember, your answer must be filed within 14 days or a default judgment may be entered against you. As the defendant, you may also choose to file a Counterclaim , which is a claim that you have against the plaintiff.

All parties to a small claims case are encouraged to attempt to reach a settlement agreement prior to trial. All settlement agreements should be in writing and should state who is to pay the court costs.

A request for dismissal should be filed prior to court if an agreement has been reached between the parties.
6. What should both sides do to prepare for the trial?    

If an agreement cannot be reached, both the plaintiff and defendant should gather all papers, receipts, bills, sales tickets, estimates, photographs, etc., having anything to do with the claim. You should write down the details and facts of the case to assist you in telling your side of the story at the trial.

As the plaintiff or defendant, you may bring any witnesses you feel can help explain your case. If there is any reason to believe a witness will not voluntarily appear, you may ask the clerk to issue a WITNESS SUBPOENA requiring that person to appear. You will be required to pay a witness subpoena fee.
7. What happens at the trial?    

You will be mailed a court notice approximately 2 weeks prior to the court date. YOU MUST BE ON TIME. If you are not present at the time your case is called, the judge may dismiss your case (if you are the plaintiff) or he may enter a default judgment against you (if you are the defendant). The judge will grant a continuance should you be unable to attend on the day your case has been set. However, all motions for continuances must be filed with the court no less than 7 days prior to the court date. The clerk's office has no authority to continue a case via telephone or fax.

A trial in Small Claims Court is an informal hearing before the judge. There is no jury. When the case is called, the plaintiff will present his evidence and call his witnesses. The defendant will then present his evidence, and call his witnesses.

After hearing both sides of the case and reviewing the evidence, the judge will make a decision and render a judgment based on the law and facts presented. Once the judge's written decision or order has been filed with the clerk, a copy will be forwarded to you.
8. What can you do if you disagree with the Court's judgment?    

If either of you, plaintiff or defendant, disagrees with the judge’s decision, you may appeal the case by filing a NOTICE OF APPEAL form with the clerk of the Small Claims Court within 14 days after the date of the judgment.

The appeal will be heard in the Circuit Court. The party filing the appeal must be prepared to pay a filing fee as well as the lower court costs (if the defendant is the party filing the appeal). You may need the assistance of an attorney if you choose to appeal because the simplified procedures of Small Claims court do not apply in Circuit Court.
9. How do you collect the judgment?    

Method of collection may become involved, you may wish to have an attorney explain the procedure and assist you in filing the appropriate forms. Again, the court clerk cannot give you legal advice. If the defendant does not pay the judgment (after the 14-day appeal time has expired) it is up to the plaintiff (not the court) to take one of the following actions to collect your judgment:

Execution for Levy on Property --Obtain a court order authorizing the sheriff to pick up any property belonging to the defendant and sell it to satisfy the judgment. The property levied cannot be under a recorded mortgage. Mortgages are recorded in the office of the Judge of Probate. The Russell County Sheriff’s Office requires that the Plaintiff file, with the Execution Form, an indemnity bond.

Garnishment of Wages --Obtain a court order to garnish (withhold) wages of the defendant to satisfy the judgment. It must meet state and federal requirements in order to collect using this method. You must provide the name and address of the employer.

Garnishment of Bank Account—You must provide the name and address of the bank.

Please be advised that the following forms of income are not subject to garnishment: a retirement check, disability check, welfare, child assistance, unemployment or a social security check.

Please note: A judgment is not a guarantee of collection. It is much easier to obtain a judgment than to collect on one.