Small Claims without a Lawyer
If you have just been served with (given a copy of) a “Summons” and a “Complaint” to appear in court, you are now a “defendant” in a lawsuit. This article is about what your options are.
There is usually an acceptable middle ground, especially in monetary disputes. Remember that defending your case in court will cost you time off work, possibly other costs, and perhaps attorney’s fees. The same is true for the other side.
Don’t believe that you will be able to “split the difference,” i.e., settle to cut the monetary claim in half. The fact that you have gone this far means that the other side thinks you have a good case. If you can reach an agreement to reduce the demand by 20% or 30%, many people would consider this a victory. Of course, if you think the other side is completely wrong and you owe them nothing, this option is not for you.
TIP – If you can reach a settlement through negotiation or mediation, it is a good idea to ask the judge to sign the agreement as part of the court’s judgment. Just in case the other side does not live up to its part of the agreement, it will be easier for you to force compliance with a judgment than to try to force a private settlement.
Minimum Value Amount 2020
If a private business or landlord discriminates against you because of your disability, you can sue them in federal or state court, or you can file an administrative complaint with a federal or state agency. However, if your claim is for $10,000 or less, you can sue them in small claims court.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects against discrimination in renting and buying housing.6 The FHA states that discrimination includes refusing to make reasonable accommodations to policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing.7 Similarly, the FHA requires rental housing owners to permit reasonable modifications to the premises (when necessary to afford such equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing).8
Minimum amount to initiate a lawsuit
Small Claims Court is a division of the District Court of Maryland. It handles claims up to $5,000, and is less formal than the other Maryland courts. The rules of procedure and evidence in this Court are easier to facilitate self-representation without the need for an attorney, although you may hire an attorney if you wish. Cases are decided by a judge; not a jury. Read the law: MD Code Courts & Jud. Proc. § 4-405; Maryland Rule 3-701
Before filing a lawsuit, you can send a letter to the defendant warning him or her that you will sue if he or she does not satisfy the claims within a certain period of time. Keep a copy of the letter.
Many cases go to trial unnecessarily because they have not tried to communicate. Before filing a lawsuit, you should make every effort to resolve disputes out of court. Consider Mediation. District Court mediation is free. For more information, contact the District Court of Maryland’s ADR Office.
How to respond to a Small Claim
A Law such as the Law of Civil Procedure, which has been in force for a century without having undergone any significant modifications, makes it compatible with the recognition of its roots in practice and the convenience, perfectly explicable, of its renewal.
The renewal of our civil procedural system, without implying a confrontation with the principles that inform the centenary Law, must mean to a large extent providing them with a sufficient instrumentation, within the demands of the present social reality.
As an anticipation of what, in its day, could be the new procedural system, whose culmination does not seem feasible in the short term due to its dependence on the organization of the Courts, also pending reform, and due to the careful tact required in the treatment of the organization of the process – an indispensable means to provide people with the protection that the Constitution establishes as a fundamental right – it seems advisable to implement, as of now, some reforms of the Civil Procedure Law to meet the most pressing needs.