Small Claims – General – Kansas
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law and procedures of small claims in Kansas, but it does contain basic and other information. This summary only discusses civil claims (property and money claims that may be filed in small claims court). Criminal charges are not discussed.
Definition – Small claims courts, also sometimes called “Peoples Court”, is a court of limited jurisdiction. Limited jurisdiction means only certain matters may be filed and heard by the small claims court. There is also a maximum claim amount limitation. Small claims court offer a quick, informal and inexpensive way of resolving many types of disputes you may have with particular individuals or companies.
Maximum Amount of Claim Small Claims Court may hear in Kansas: $4,000.00
Which Court hears small claims in Kansas? The small claims court is a division of the Kansas District Court. All claims of $4,000.00 or less will be heard in this department.
Who hears the claims in small claims court? The claim will be heard by a district magistrate judge.
Claims over which the Small Claims Court has Jurisdiction:
The small claims court in Kansas may hear any of the following claims if the amount in controversy does not exceed $4,000.00:
1. monetary disputes
2. personal property disputes
3. actions in replevin
4. The above list is not exhaustive but does contain most of the common claims.
The following claims MAY NOT be filed in small claims court: an assigned claim, a claim based on an obligation or indebtedness allegedly owed to a person other than the person filing the claim, where the person filing the claim is not a full-time employee or officer of the person to whom the obligation or indebtedness is allegedly owed, or a claim obtained through subrogation.
Who may file a claim in small claims court? An individual (18 or older), partnership or corporation (or LLC) may file a claim against another individual(s), partnership or corporation (or LLC) in small claims court if jurisdiction exists to hear the claim and the amount of the claim or property involved does not exceed $4,000.00.
Must you be represented by an attorney? There are no attorneys allowed, unless an attorney is personally suing someone else or someone is suing an attorney. In this case, a party is informed that he or she is entitled to have an attorney or he or she may proceed without them.
Things to do before you File a Claim: Get the facts straight so you can complete the forms correctly and answer any questions court personnel may need to know. Be sure to obtain the correct legal name of the defendant, correct address and place/address of employment. If the defendant is a Corporation or Limited Liability Company you would use the legal corporate or LLC name as the defendant. If the defendant is a Corporation or LLC, you may need to contact the secretary of state in your state and obtain the proper name and address to serve with a copy of the suit. This person is called a registered agent and is designated by the corporation to receive process or summons when the corporation is sued. Be sure to also contact the small claims court to determine the filing fee for filing the claim.
How to File the Claim: The plaintiff must go to the clerk of the district court office in the appropriate county and request to file a small claims case. The plaintiff will be given a petition to complete stating his or her claim. Upon signing the petition before a notary public or someone in the clerk’s office and payment of the appropriate fees, a hearing is scheduled.
Who serves the Defendant with summons or process and how is the defendant served: The sheriff may serve the defendant with summons or the plaintiff may initiate service by publication.
Return of Summons: The sheriff, constable, or other process server shall, after effecting service, must endorse that fact on a copy of the summons and return it to the court clerk who will make the appropriate entry on the docket sheet of the action.
If you are the Defendant, what should you do after being served with a
Statement of Claim? If you are being sued in small claims court and you owe the full amount of money or property as stated in the Petition, you may pay what you owe, and you will not have to appear in court. Be sure the court is notified in writing of such a settlement. If you have a claim against the plaintiff in connection with the same matter that their claim concerns, you may fill out a “Defendant’s Claim” form that came with the summons. Return it as soon as possible to the court where the hearing is to be held and mail a copy to the person suing you. If you do not settle the claim out of court, then you must appear in court at the time scheduled for trial or the judge may rule against you. Bring with you any documents, etc., that will support your side of the claim, and any witnesses who can speak on your behalf. You may also subpoena witnesses, for a fee.
Removal to another Court: The action may be removed from small claims court if the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory limitation.
How are hearings scheduled? The clerk of the court will provide you with the procedure to set the case for trial or hearing at the time you file your claim.
Subpoena of Witnesses: If witnesses are required but unwilling to voluntarily attend unless they are subpoenaed, you may obtain a subpoena issued by the court clerk for service on the witness. The subpoena is an order for the witness to appear at the hearing and testify. Some employers may require that an employee be subpoenaed in order to be excused from work.
Trial Procedures: The trial procedure is generally informal than other courts although the formality will vary from county to county and judge to judge. The case will usually be called in open court and you will respond that you are present and ready to proceed. You will then be advised when to present your claim. Be prepared to present your claim in your own words. Be prepared to question witnesses if witnesses are needed.
What happens if the defendant does not appear at trial? Usually, if the defendant does not appear at trial, a default judgment will be entered in your favor for the amount of the claim or other relief.
Judgment: If the defendant fails to appear, or if the court rules for you after the hearing, a judgment will be entered by the court for the amount of the claim, or other relief sought.
Appeal: An appeal may be taken by either party within ten days of the judgment being issued.
Collection of Judgment: The losing party will receive a form entitled Judgment Debtor’s Statement of Assets. This form will be attached to the Journal Entry of Judgment. If the judgment is not paid within 15 days, the copy of the Journal Entry of Judgment must be mailed by the Judgment Creditor to the Judgment Debtor. If the Judgment Debtor does not respond, garnishments against wages or a bank account will be issued.
Are Motions allowed? Motions are allowed by the parties on a limited basis.
Continuances: A continuance will only be granted for good cause.
Out-of-Court Settlement: If the parties decide to settle out of court, the court clerk must be notified.
When Payment is Received: When the judgment has been satisfied, the receiving party must send written notice to the court that the judgment has been satisfied.
Cross-Claims, Counterclaims, and Third-Party Claims: The defendant may file a counterclaim against the plaintiff. If the defendant asserts a claim beyond the scope of the court’s small claim jurisdiction, the court may determine the validity of the the defendant’s entire claim.
What happens if a defendant has filed bankruptcy? If the plaintiff has filed a claim against the defendant and the plaintiff is aware that the claim is listed as a debt in a bankruptcy proceeding, federal law prohibits the plaintiff from pursuing the claim in small claims court.
Common Forms used in Small Claims Court:
Return of Summons
Abstract of Judgment
Kansas Revised Statutes:
As used in this act:
(a) “Small claim” means a claim for the recovery of money or personal property, where the amount claimed or the value of the property sought does not exceed $1,800, exclusive of interest, costs and any damages awarded pursuant to K.S.A. 60-2610 and amendments thereto. In actions of replevin, the verified petition fixing the value of the property shall be determinative of the value of the property for jurisdictional purposes. A small claim shall not include:
(1) An assigned claim;
(2) a claim based on an obligation or indebtedness allegedly owed to a person other than the person filing the claim, where the person filing the claim is not a full-time employee or officer of the person to whom the obligation or indebtedness is allegedly owed; or
(3) a claim obtained through subrogation.
(b) “Person” means an individual, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, fiduciary, joint venture, society, organization or other association of persons.
61-2704. Commencement of action; fees and costs; limit on number of claims.
(a) An action seeking the recovery of a small claim shall be considered to have been commenced at the time a person files a written statement of the person’s small claim with the clerk of the court if, within 90 days after the small claim is filed, service of process is obtained or the first publication is made for service by publication. Otherwise, the action is deemed commenced at the time of service of process or first publication. An entry of appearance shall have the same effect as service.
(b) Upon the filing of a plaintiff’s small claim, the clerk of the court shall require from the plaintiff a docket fee of $26, if the claim does not exceed $500; or $46, if the claim exceeds $500; unless for good cause shown the judge waives the fee. The docket fee shall be the only costs required in an action seeking recovery of a small claim. No person may file more than 10 small claims under this act in the same court during any calendar year.
This summary contains some of the provisions from the Kansas Annotated Statutes which pertain to small claims, but does not include a comprehensive discussion of all of the statutes.
The statutes which apply to small claims are Section 61-2701 – Section 61-2714.