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Respond to a Small Claims Lawsuit

A small claims complaint contains the claims against a Defendant and a demand for money damages of up to $6,000. The summons contains the day, time, and location of the court date. Failure to appear on the date listed in the summons puts the Defendant at risk of losing the case.

Defendants do not need to take action before they appear, but may request a new court date, file a counterclaim or cross-claim, or file a third party complaint against someone not in the lawsuit.

If you are unable to come to court on your hearing date you may request a new date.

Written Continuance Request Form  Continuance Request Form
*For handwritten requests

If you think the person or business that filed a lawsuit against you owes you money then a counterclaim may be an option.

Counterclaims Forms  Counterclaim Forms

If you think that another defendant in the same case owes you money then a cross-claim may be an option.

Cross-Claim Forms  Cross-Claim Forms

If you think that a person or business that is not a party in the case is responsible then a third-party complaint may be an option.

Third-Party Complaint Forms  Third-Party Complaint Forms


Do I need an attorney?
  • Individuals may represent themselves or be represented by an attorney.

  • Partnerships may be represented by a general partner or an attorney.

  • Corporations may be represented by an attorney, a non-lawyer officer, or a salaried employee; however, the following limitations apply to non-lawyer representatives: the officer or salaried employee may testify only about facts he or she has personal knowledge of and may present documentary evidence in support of the claim or defense. He or she may not examine or cross-examine any witness, present legal arguments, or engage in other acts of advocacy. The officer or salaried employee may not file or present motions, affidavits, or file paperwork to collect a judgment.

  • Limited Liability Companies may be represented by an attorney, a non-lawyer officer or salaried employee of a limited liability company (LLC). A non-lawyer representative may complete and file documents on behalf of the company in a small claims court, appear on behalf of the company at small claims court hearings, but may not engage in cross examination, argument, or other acts of advocacy. A non-lawyer representative of an LLC may not file or present motions, affidavits, or file paperwork to collect a judgment.
Is Small Claims Court the right place for the lawsuit? (Jurisdiction and Venue)

Small Claims lawsuits must meet the requirements for both jurisdiction and venue.

“Jurisdiction” is the court’s authority to hear a particular type of case. The Small Claims Division has the authority to hear cases for money damages that do not exceed $6,000, not including interest and court costs. The Court does not have the authority to hear cases involving libel, slander, malicious prosecution, or abuse of legal process. No claims may be brought against the State of Ohio or the United States of America.

“Venue” means the territory (usually a specific county) where a case may be heard. Generally, the Franklin County Small Claims Court is a proper venue if either the incident or transaction giving rise to the lawsuit occurred in Franklin County or the defendant either lives in, or regularly conducts business in, Franklin County, Ohio.

What if I am a defendant but I have a claim against someone else? (Counterclaims, Cross-Claims, and Third-Party Complaints)

If a defendant has a claim against the plaintiff, another defendant in the case, or a party that is not currently in the case, they may file either a counterclaim, a cross-claim, or a third-party complaint. The claims must be filed at least sseven (7) calendar days before the trial. A fee of $20.00 (plus costs for service of process) is required. Counterclaims, cross-claims, and third-party complaints filed in the Small Claims Court are limited to $6,000, not including costs and interest.

  • A counterclaim is a claim brought by a defendant against a plaintiff.

  • A cross-claim is a claim brought by one defendant against another defendant, or one plaintiff against another plaintiff. A cross-claim must arise out of the same subject matter described in the plaintiff’s complaint.

  • A third-party complaint is a claim brought by the defendant against a new party who was not named in the original complaint. This procedure is an option if the third-party would be liable to you if you were found liable to the plaintiff.
What is a "Transfer to the General Division"?

A case may be transferred from the Small Claims Division to the General Civil Division docket by any of the following ways:

  • By motion of the Court at any stage of the proceedings
  • By motion of a party against whom a complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party complaint is filed, accompanied by an affidavit, stating that a good defense to the claim exists and that states the grounds of the defense
  • Upon the filing of counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party complaint for more than $6,000

A transfer fee of $45.00 is required as a condition for transfer and must be completed at least five (5) days prior to trial. A party seeking transfer less than five (5) days prior to trial must obtain permission from the assigned magistrate.