Filing a Claim
Where May Claims Be Filed?
You must file your conciliation court claim in the right county. This is the county where the person against whom you are making a claim (the defendant) lives. If the defendant is a business, you should sue in the county where the business or branch office is located. There are some exceptions to this. You may want to call the conciliation court in your county for more information about those exceptions.
If you are seeking recovery for a dishonored check, or are making a claim for a security deposit on rental property, then you should file your claim in the county where the check was issued or where the rental property is located.
How Do You File a Claim?
As the plaintiff, you begin the process by contacting the court administrator’s office in the county where you are filing the claim. (The phone numbers of the conciliation courts in most Minnesota counties are located in the Resources Section.) You will be charged a filing fee and law library fee. The total fees vary by county, but are generally between $70 and $80.
Completing the Complaint Form
You will be required to fill out a uniform conciliation court form. If you ask, a person from the court administrator’s office will help you complete the form. A sample Statement of Claims and Summons form is available here.
In addition to putting your name and address on the form, you must provide the following information:
- The name (no abbreviations or nicknames) and address of the defendant. (Use the home address if the defendant is an individual.) If this information is incorrect or incomplete, your case may be dismissed. To learn the proper name and address of a company doing business in Minnesota, contact the Secretary of State by mail at Retirement Systems of Minnesota Building, 60 Empire Drive, Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103, or by phone at (651) 296-2803 or (877) 600-8683. Information is also available on its website: www.sos.state.mn.us.
- The amount of your claim and a reason (one or two paragraphs) for requesting it. Include specific dates, times, and places. You must verify the claim by signing the form under penalty of perjury. You must also pay the court fees. If you win your case, the court may order the defendant to pay you for the fees.
Notification of the Trial Date
It is possible that two to six weeks may pass between the time you file your claim and the day you have your hearing. Generally, the court administrator’s office will mail, by first class mail, notices to you and the defendant indicating the date and time for the hearing. If the claim exceeds $2,500, however, then the plaintiff must serve the summons upon the defendant via certified mail. Service by certified mail must be proven by filing an affidavit of service with court. A sample Affidavit of Service form can be found here.
Many cases settle when the defendant receives notice of the hearing. It is your responsibility to tell the court administrator in writing if you and the defendant settle your case. Do this by signing and returning to the court your copy of the hearing notice.
The Defendant May File a Counterclaim
If you are the party being sued (the defendant) in the case, and you have a claim against the party suing you (the plaintiff), you may be able to file a counterclaim. The procedure is similar to that for filing a claim, but it must be filed at least five business days prior to the court date (weekends and legal holidays are not included).
The court will notify the plaintiff that a counterclaim has been filed. The counterclaim will be heard by the court at the same time the original claim is scheduled to be heard.
The claim will be transferred to district court if the counterclaim is above the legal limit for conciliation court ($15,000). If the defendant fails to file the counterclaim in district court after giving notice of intent to do so, the plaintiff may have the claim reinstated in conciliation court. The plaintiff may do this any time after 30 days and before three years by filing an affidavit with the court administrator. The affidavit must say that the defendant has not served you with a summons to district court.
Settlement Prior to the Hearing
If the parties agree on a settlement prior to the hearing, each party who has made a claim or counterclaim must promptly tell the court in writing that the claim or counterclaim has been settled and that the case may be dismissed.