The purpose of the Small Claims Court is to resolve minor disputes, fairly, quickly, and inexpensively without an attorney. However, a party may be represented by an attorney if he or she wishes.
Rules for Filing
Types of Cases that may be filed in Small Claims Court
You may file a complaint to recover money only. The claim cannot exceed $6,000, excluding interest and court costs.
Types of Cases that cannot be filed in Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cannot handle lawsuits based on libel, slander, replevin, malicious prosecution, or abuse of process actions.
Filing in the correct Court
In order to file a claim, the defendant must reside within the jurisdiction of the Toledo Municipal Court or the action must have occurred within the jurisdiction of the Toledo Municipal Court.
The Toledo Municipal Court's jurisdiction is the City of Toledo, Village of Ottawa Hills and Washington Township. Please be aware that some Toledo, Ohio addresses are not located in the Court's jurisdiction. Inquiries to determine if a particular address is within our jurisdiction can be made at the Small Claims office or online at the County website.
Number of Filings in Small Claims Court per year
A person, firm, or corporation may file no more than twenty-four (24) claims within a calendar year. Minors under the age of 18 A minor under the age of 18 can use the Court through his or her parent or guardian.
How to file a Claim
1. Fill out the Small Claims Complaint Form
You can obtain a copy of the small claims complaint form here at or from the Small Claims office.
Plaintiff: The plaintiff is the person(s) filing the claim. As the plaintiff, you may claim money that is due only to you. You may not file a claim for someone else. Enter your legal name, your full address and phone number in the upper left hand corner of the form on the lines designated. Complete names and complete addresses must be provided.
Defendant: The defendant is the party or parties from whom you seek to recover money. In the lines designated on the upper right hand corner of the form, enter the name, address, and phone number (if known) of the defendant. Complete names and complete addresses must be provided.
If you are filing against a company, enter the name of the company and the address of its place of business.
Case Number: Leave this line blank. The case number will be assigned by the Clerk's office.
Military Status of the Defendant: If the defendant is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, write the division on this line. If the defendant is not a member of the Armed Forces, please write "None". If you do not know whether or not the defendant is a member of the Armed Services, write "Don't Know".
Amount of Claim: You may ask for money only. Please fill in the exact amount. Remember, the amount cannot exceed $3,000.
Nature of Claim: In a brief statement, please explain why the defendant is indebted to you. Please use clear, concise, non-technical language. Include in your statement where, when and how the debt arose.
In your statement, always refer to yourself as "plaintiff" and refer to the person you are suing as "defendant".
Plaintiff's Signature: Do not sign your form in advance. You must sign the form in the presence of a Deputy Clerk of Court or Notary Public.
Oath and Deputy Clerk or Notary Signature: A deputy clerk in the Small Claims Office fills out these two items if you file your complaint in person. If you choose to mail in your complaint, you will need to have a Notary Public fill out this section.
Court Date: Leave this line blank. The court date will be assigned by the Clerk's office.
2. Fill out the Praecipe Form
You need to fill out the following fields:
Date: Print or type today's date
Plaintiff: Print or type your name
Defendant: Print or type the defendant's name
Signature: Sign your name
Regular Mail: Check the box next to regular mail
Leave all other fields blank.
3. Filing Procedure
Filing Fee: The filing fee for a Small Claims Complaint is $55.50 for one (1) defendant and $11.50 for each additional defendant. For example, if you are suing three (3) parties, your filing fee will be $78.50 ($55.50 + $11.50 + $11.50).
The filing fee is payable by cash, check or money order. Check and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
Filing your complaint in person: You will file the complaint form in the Clerk of Court's Small Claims office. It is located at 555 North Erie Street in the basement level.
If you need assistance in filling out the Small Claims Complaint Form, a Small Claims Assistant can help you.
Filing your complaint by mail: If you wish to mail in your complaint, please include the following:
1. Four (4) copies of the notarized complaint (the original and three copies)
2. One (1) copy of the Praecipe Form for regular service
3. The filing fee
4. A self-addressed stamped envelope. You must include this so we can mail your receipt and court date back to you.
Mail your complaint and filing fee to:
Toledo Municipal Court, Small Claims Office
555 North Erie Street
Toledo, Ohio 43604
Service is the official notice to the parties on the case. The Clerk's office will send a copy of the complaint to the defendant by certified mail.
Be aware that if service is delayed your case may be continued, which means you will be assigned a new court date. The Clerk's office will notify you and the other parties of your new court date.
Preparing your case
You need to organize your case before going to court.
Collect all documents related to your case such as receipts, cancelled checks, estimates, bills, contracts, photos, etc.
Bring three (3) copies of every document you wish to submit to the court except for photos. You only need to bring one (1) set of photos.
If your complaint involves damage to your vehicle, you must bring the title to prove the vehicle belongs to you. Additionally, you should bring any police report and three estimates to repair the damage.
Ask your witnesses to testify: Identify any witnesses and ask them to testify. You will not be allowed to tell the Judge what someone else (except the defendant) told you.
Subpoena Witnesses: If a witness is reluctant to testify, you can have him/her subpoenaed. To subpoena a witness, you must:
- Fill out the Praecipe Form for Subpeona
You can obtain a the form here or from the Small Claims office.
- Pay the $10.00 filing fee per person / address The filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
- File the Praecipe in the Clerk's office at least seven (7) days before the trial.
Going to Court
On your assigned court date, go to Courtroom 9 on the third floor of the Toledo Municipal Court building.
Please check in with the deputy clerk in the hallway before you enter the courtroom.
Once all parties have arrived, the court will offer mediation service prior to trial. Mediation is an alternative means of solving disputes other than the traditional court system.
With the help of a neutral third party, participants often reach mutually accepted
agreements. In mediation, avenues of communication are opened which permit the participants to more clearly understand themselves, each other, and the situation. Since the participants themselves craft these agreements, there is a greater likelihood that the agreement will be successfully implemented.
If a resolution is reached, the mediator will help the parties prepare a written agreement stating the terms of the settlement. The case will not go to trial.
If an agreement is not reached, the case will be set for trial.
A deputy clerk will swear you in prior to your hearing.
A Magistrate of the Toledo Municipal Court will hear the case.
Each side gets a chance to present testimony and evidence. As the plaintiff on the case, you present your case first. Include all relevant facts, state the amount you are claiming and explain how you arrived at this amount. Show the Magistrate any documents or other evidence you have.
The defendant will have a chance to question you on any points you have raised in your testimony. The Magistrate may also ask questions to clarify the case.
The defendant will then present his or her testimony and evidence. The plaintiff will have a chance to question any points raised in the testimony. The Magistrate may also ask questions to clarify the case.
The Magistrate will not usually make a decision at the end of your case.
The Court's Decision
1. Decision of the Magistrate
The Magistrate will issue a decision in writing in favor of one party or the other within six (6) to eight (8) weeks.
The written decision is called a Recommendation and is entered into the Court's record. The Clerk’s office will mail a copy of the Recommendation to each party on the case.
2. Request for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
A Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law allow either party to obtain a detailed explanation of how and why the magistrate made his or her decision. It sets forth the facts the Magistrate found to be true in the case and the conclusions of law he or she reached.
3. Objection to the Magistrate's Recommendation
Any party who disagrees with the Magistrate's Recommendation may ask the court to modify or set aside the recommendation by filing an objection. If you wish to object to the Magistrate's Recommendation, you must file a written objection in the Clerk's office.
The objection must be filed within fourteen (14) days of the date the Magistrate's Recommendation was time-stamped by the Clerk’s office. If you requested a Findings of Fact, the fourteen (14) day time period begins from the date the Clerk's office time-stamped the findings.
It is best to file the form in person at the Clerk's office. If you choose to file the objection by mail, you must include a self-addressed stamped envelope. This allows us to return file stamped copies of the objection to you.
To object to the Magistrate's Recommendation you must:
File the completed objection form along with two (2) copies in the Clerk's office (for a total of 3 copies).
Include a transcript
Pay the $3.00 Filing Fee
The filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
Mail a file stamped copy of the objection to the other parties on the case.
4. Final Judgment
The Judge adopts, modifies, or rejects the Magistrate's Recommendation. The Clerk's office will mail a copy of this decision to all parties on the case.
A judgment gives you a legal right to collect the amount awarded by the Court, but it does not force a debtor (the person owing money) to pay. Rather, the Court has confirmed that the debtor has a legal, enforceable obligation to pay. It is your job to collect that debt.
The simplest way to collect your judgment is to contact the other party and arrange a voluntary payment, either in a lump sum or in installments. After the judgment amount has been paid in full, you must notify the Clerk’s office in writing that the claim has been satisfied.
If the other party refuses to pay the judgment amount voluntarily, you may wish to use the following legal collection methods.
Non-Wage or Bank Garnishment
If the debtor has a bank account, you can use a non-wage garnishment to collect the judgment from the account.
Locate the name and address of the bank where the debtor has accounts.
Purchase the Affidavit, Order & Notice of Garnishment and Answer of Garnishee (Other than Personal Earnings) Form. Forms can be purchased from:
Downtown Print Shop
500 Madison Ave B-2
Toledo, Ohio 43604
Toledo Legal News
247 Gradolph Street
Toledo, Ohio 43612
3. File the completed form in the Small Claims office.
4. The filing fee is $30.00. If you request service by certified mail, there is an additional $10.00 fee. Please remember the filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
If you know where the judgment debtor works, you can take steps to get his or her employer to deduct money from his wages.
1. Purchase the following forms. Forms can be purchased from the Downtown Print Shop or Toledo Legal News (see page 8).
a. Notice of Court Proceedings to Collect Debt, also known as a 15-Day Notice form.
b. Affidavit, Order and Notice of Garnishment and Answer of Employer (Personal Earnings), also known as a Wage Garnishment form.
c. Interim Report & Answer of Garnishee
d. Final Report & Answer of Garnishee
2. Fill out the Notice of Court Proceedings to Collect Debt (15-Day Notice) form. Send the completed form by certified mail to the debtor. Save a copy of the notice and your certified mail receipt.
3. The 15-Day Notice is valid for 45 days from the date of mailing. However, you cannot begin garnishment proceedings until the first 15 days have passed. This means that the 15-day Notice is good for proof of mailing purposes for a period of 30 days.
4. Within the timeframe listed above in number 3, bring the following to the Small Claims office:
a. The green certified mail card that was returned to you
b. The certified mail receipt
c. A copy of the 15-Day Notice you sent
d. The completed, notarized Wage Garnishment form
e. The completed Interim and Final Report
f. The filing fee of $40.00. If you request service by certified mail, there is an additional $10.00 fee. Please remember the filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
5. 1. The garnishment forms will be served on the debtor’s employer. The employer has up two weeks to respond, after which time you may check on the employer's response online at the Case Information section of our website at www.tmc-clerk.com or by calling the Small Claims Office.
If the debtor owns real estate, you can put a lien on the real estate for the amount of the unpaid judgment plus interest. For the period of time that you have the lien, it will "cloud the title" of the debtor's real estate. If he or she wants to sell the real estate, the judgment will have to be paid first.
2. File it in the Small Claims office and pay the $10.00 filing fee. The filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
3. A deputy clerk in the Small Claims office will prepare the Certificate of Judgment.
4. Once you receive the Certificate of Judgment, take it to the Lucas County Clerk of Courts office on the third floor of Common Pleas Court. Lucas County Common Pleas Court is located at Erie and Adams streets in downtown Toledo.
Execution is for judgments against a business or personal property.
1. You will need to fill out the Praecipe Form for Execution / Execution of Vehicle. You can obtain a copy of the Praecipe Form here or from the Small Claims office.
2. Under Instructions, write the address of the business. If the business has a cash register, also write the general location of the cash register.
3. File it in the Small Claims office and pay the $20.00 filing fee. The filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
If your Small Claims suit involved a car accident, you can file to revoke the debtor's driver's license.
1. Fill out the Praecipe Form for Certificate of Revocations to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. You can obtain the form here or from the Small Claims office.
2. You will need the following information:
a. Name of the defendant
b. Address of the defendant
c. Date of Birth of the defendant
d. Social Security Number of the defendant
e. Driver's License Number of the defendant
f. Date of the accident
g. Small Claims Case Number
3. File the praecipe in the Small Claims office and pay the $6.00 filing fee. The filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.
Proceedings in Aid
This allows you to summon the debtor into Court to find out information needed to file a Non-Wage Garnishment, Wage Garnishment, Lien, Execution, or License Revocation.
1. Purchase the Affidavit & Motion in Proceedings in Aid of Execution form. Forms can be purchased from the Downtown Print Shop or Toledo Legal News (see page 8).
2. Fill out the form.
3. Have the form notarized.
4. File the original form and three (3) copies in the Small Claims office.
5. Pay the $10.00 filing fee. The filing fee is payable by check, cash or money order. Checks and money orders should be made out to Toledo Municipal Court.