The monetary limit for a civil lawsuit in District Court is $75,000. The filing fee is $ 73.00. For court dates, scheduling or other information, please contact Stevens County District Court Civil Department at 684-7519.
Please forward all correspondence to:
Notice of Small Claim with Mediation (PDF)
How Much Does It Cost?
You must pay the court clerk a $35.00 filing fee at the time
the suit is filed. You may have some additional fees payable to the sheriff or
process server to have the Notice of Small Claims served on the defendant. As an
alternative, you may commence the suit by registered or certified, return
receipt mailing. If you win your case, you are entitled to recover your costs of
filing and service fees.
How Do I Get Started?
First, you will prepare a Notice of Small Claims form that is
provided by the clerk. You are required to sign the Notice in the presence of
the clerk, unless otherwise instructed by the court. On the Notice form, the
clerk will enter a hearing date, trial date, or response date. It is the
plaintiff’s responsibility to accurately identify the defendant, provide a
proper address and, if possible, provide a phone number.
Serving the Notice
The clerk will assist you with all the steps and procedures of
starting a suit. The clerk is not allowed to give legal advice or attempt to
predict how the judge might rule in a given situation. Service of the claim form
can be accomplished by any of the following:
- The Sheriff’s office;
- A process server;
- Any person of legal age (18) who is not connected with the
case either as a witness or as a party; or
- By mailing the copies to the defendant by registered or
certified mail with a return receipt requested.
The Notice of Small Claims must be served on the defendant not
less than ten (10) days before the first hearing. A return of service, or mail
return receipt bearing the defendant’s signature, must be filed at or before
the time of the first hearing. You cannot personally serve the claim.
What If We Settle?
In most cases, neither party is one hundred percent right nor wrong. You are encouraged to try to settle
your case before trial. If you settle the dispute before the hearing,
inform the court in writing so the hearing can be canceled and your case
If the other party agrees to pay at a later date, you may ask the
court for a continuance. If the other party pays before the postponed date, ask
the court to cancel the hearing. If you do not receive your money by the time of
the continued hearing, proceed with the case in court.
you drop the suit, you’re filing fee and service costs are not returned.
Preparing For The Trial
You can help yourself by being well prepared. To prepare for
the trial, collect all papers, photographs, receipts, estimates, canceled
checks, or other documents that concern the case. All documents you present, as
evidence must be marked with Exhibit ‘A’, Exhibit ‘B’, etc. You will
also need the originals plus three (3) copies of each document for the judge,
defendant and yourself. It may be helpful to write down ahead of time the facts
of the case in the order that they occurred. This will help you to organize your
thoughts and to make a clear presentation of your story to the judge.
What Happens At The Trial?
When you arrive at the court, report to room 212. When your
case is called in the courtroom, come forward to the counsel table and the judge
will swear in all the parties and witnesses.Don’t be nervous—remember that a trial in small claims is
informal. The judge will ask the plaintiff to give his or her side first, then
will ask the defendant for his or her explanation. Be brief and stick to the
facts. The judge may interrupt you with questions, which you should answer
straight out and to the best of your knowledge.Be polite—do not interrupt—not just to the judge but also
to your opponent. Whatever happens, keep your temper. Good manners and even
tempers help the fair, efficient conduct of the trial, and make a good
impression.After the judge has heard both sides, he or she will normally
announce the decision right then and will sign and hand the parties a judgment.
What If My Opponent Does Not Appear For Trial?
If the defendant fails to appear for trial, the plaintiff will
be granted judgment for the amount of the claim proven in court, plus costs—provided
the plaintiff can show proof of service. If the plaintiff fails to appear, the
claim is dismissed; however, generally the court will permit the plaintiff to
start over, if good cause for the non-appearance is shown.
How Do I Collect My Money?
A money judgment in your favor does not necessarily mean that
the money will be paid.
The Small Claims Court does not collect the judgment
for you. If no appeal is taken and the judgment is not paid within 20 days,
or the time set by the court in the payment plan, you may request (in writing) a
transcript. Upon payment of the $ 20.00 transcript fee, the judgment will be
entered into the civil docket of the court. At that time you may proceed with a
method of collection such as garnishment of wages, bank accounts, and other
monies of the defendant or an execution may be issued on cars, boats, or other
personal property of the judgment debtor. Remember that the clerks cannot give
you legal advice. You may need the assistance of an attorney or collection
agency at this point. In the alternative, you may take your transcript of the
judgment and file it in superior court for a fee of $20.00. The superior court
clerk or county auditor may require other fees. When this is done, it places a
lien against all real estate in the name of the judgment debtor that is located
in the county.When the judgment has been paid in full you must send written
notice to the district court that the judgment has been satisfied.
Can You Appeal A Case If You Lose?
The party who files a claim or counterclaim cannot appeal
unless the amount claimed exceeds $1,000.00. No party may appeal a judgment
where the amount claimed is less than $250.00. If an appeal is taken to the
superior court, the appealing party is required to follow the procedures set out
in Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 12.36. The following steps must be taken
within 30 days of the entry judgment:
- Prepare a written Notice of Appeal and file it with the
- Serve a copy of the Notice on the other parties, and file
acknowledgement or affidavit of service in district court.
- Pay to the district court a $20.00 transcript fee and a
$40.00 appeal record preparation fee.
- Deposit at the district court the $230.00 superior court
filing fee either in cash, money order, or cashier’s check payable to the
Clerk of the Superior Court. There may be additional fees that you will need
to pay as set forth by local court rule.
You are also required to post a bond in a sum equal to twice
the amount of the judgment and costs, or twice the amount in controversy,
whichever is greater, (cash or surety) at the district court made payable to the
County Clerk. When the appeal and bond are
transferred to superior court, the appellant (person appealing the decision) may
request that the superior court suspend enforcement of the judgment until after
the appeal is heard.Within 14 days of filing the Notice of Appeal, the district
court clerk will file the court record with superior court. They will assign a
new number and notify the district court. The district court clerk will advise
the appellant of that number, and the appellant must then contact the superior
court for further instructions.