Civil/Small Claims Division

Sometimes individuals will ask a court to help them resolve a conflict with another party, like a personal injury matter or a conflict between a contractor and a home owner. These are civil cases. Cases in the Civil Division of the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court are filed in either the General Division or the Small Claims Division. The maximum monetary jurisdiction of the General Division is $15,000. The maximum monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Division is $6,000.

How Do I File a Case?
Cases may be filed at the Clerk of Court’s office during normal business hours. For small claims cases, some forms and brochures are available at the Clerk of Court's office or at See the Civil Fees section for costs associated with filing a case.

I have been sued, what do I do?
f you received a complaint and summons, the summons will explain what you need to do to dispute the claim. In a small claims case, the summons will contain the date and time you must appear in court. In cases filed in the general division, you will have twenty-eight days from when you were served to respond. If you do not appear, a default judgment may be entered against you.

What if I cannot make it to court?
If you cannot make it to court, you may request a continuance. A continuance postpones the hearing to a future date. A request for a continuance must be in writing and filed with the Court. Everything that you file with the Court, including a continuance, must be served upon the opposing party. Simply filing a continuance does not mean that it will be granted. Only if the Court grants the continuance will the hearing be rescheduled.

Do I need an attorney?
An individual can represent themselves in court. Only an attorney licensed to practice law in Ohio can represent someone else in court. A power-of-attorney does not allow you to represent someone in court.
An attorney must represent an entity. One exception is in small claims cases. In small claims cases, a non-lawyer can appear on behalf of an entity, but only to present evidence. That person cannot advocate. In other words, that person will not be able to examine or cross-examine witnesses or present legal arguments.

Does the court provide legal assistance?
There are numerous risks of navigating legal matters alone. However, you are only entitled to appointed counsel in criminal cases where you are facing jail. The Court cannot provide legal assistance or advice to any plaintiff or defendant. The Court cannot recommend legal counsel to anyone. You can contact the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland or you can contact the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association for recommendations.

Does the court refund filing fees if the case is dismissed?
Court costs are generally not refunded once paid, even if you later dismiss the case. If you are the prevailing party, you are generally entitled to be awarded not only your damages, but the court costs as well.

I won my case, how do I collect?
When you obtain a civil judgment from the Court, you must take affirmative steps to collect on that judgment. Some common methods for collecting are garnishments, bank attachments, and filing a judgment lien.

When I pay court costs, where do they go?
On civil cases, other than small claims, $26 goes to Legal Aid, $10 goes to the Special Project Fund; $6 goes to the Legal Research Fund, and $88 goes to local costs.