What is a civil case?
According to the Michigan Association of Townships, “If you decide to sue another person, an organization or a business, your case is a civil case. Private individuals, businesses or the government can sue other people and organizations. The person who is suing is called the plaintiff and the person who is being sued is called the defendant. Some examples of civil cases are:
- A person who is hurt in a car accident sues the driver of the other car;
- A worker sues his employer after the worker hurts his back at work and can never work again;
- A homeowner who has hired a builder to build a new kitchen sues the builder when the kitchen is badly built and has to be fixed;
- A family sues their doctor when the doctor does not discover that the mother has cancer in time for the cancer to be treated.
People usually sue for an amount of money to make up for the injury or loss they have suffered. Civil cases do not result in prison terms.
Civil cases are handled in Livingston County Courts as follows:
Cases where money damages are alleged to be below $25,000, except some case types that are assigned to Circuit Court
All Small Claims cases
All Landlord/Tenant cases
All cases where money damages are alleged to be $25,000 or above, plus some case types that are assigned to Circuit Court.
Cases are filed with the appropriate Court. For District Court cases, more information is available here. For Circuit Court cases, the case is filed with the Circuit Court Clerk.
In most civil cases, parties have the right to a jury trial. A party must ask for a jury trial and pay a nominal fee. In circuit and district court the jury is comprised of six Livingston County residents. The decision of the jury does not have to be unanimous. Five of the six jurors must agree. Litigants do not have a right to a jury trial in every civil case. Statutes and case law have limited our right to a jury trial in certain civil cases. Judges are acutely aware of the emotional and financial impact on people involved in civil litigation. A judge’s responsibility is to ensure that cases are resolved efficiently and effectively. A variety of procedures to handle civil cases efficiently while ensuring the parties’ rights are protected are used. Two examples are case evaluation and mediation.
District Court handles small claims cases. Small claims cases involve disputes of $5,000.00 or less. First, the parties appear before the magistrate who decides the case. If either party is dissatisfied with the decision of the magistrate, they may appeal to a district judge. The proceedings in small claims are informal.