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February 25, 2004

Small Claims Reform Bills Are Pending in Eight States

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:59 pm

Bills have been introduced, and some are near passage, in seven states that would increase the jurisdictional limits in small claims courts.  If your State is included below, please let your legislators know that you support opening the doors to small claims courts wider.


In addition, a bill is close to passage in Washington State that would help to solve a problem faced by many small claims plaintiffs — how to obtain the money awarded by the court.  House Bill 1572 would require losing parties to pay the collection costs of the winning party if a small claims judgment has not been paid within thirty days. This bill passed the House on February 6 and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 20.  Click here to read the full text of the Bill.


dollar bill gray  The Feb. 25, 2004 edition of HALT”s legal reform eJournal, has the following information and links concerning current efforts to increase dollar limits in small claims courts:




  • Connecticut: Senator Tony Gugliemo has introduced Senate Bill 92, which would raise the jurisdiction for small claims cases from $3,500 to $5,000. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.



  • Iowa: Senator Matt McCoy has introduced Senate File 2106. The bill would raise small claims court jurisdiction from $5,000 to $8,000. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.

     


  • Kansas: On February 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 437, which would raise the small claims dollar limit from $1,800 (third lowest in the country) to the national median of $5,000. Another bill, House Bill 2678, raising the limit to $4,000, passed the House on February 17 and is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.

     


  • Oklahoma: House Bill 2106, increasing the small claims dollar limit from $4,500 to $7,500, passed the House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Terry Ingmire, passed the House on February 17. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.

     


  • Rhode Island: Senate Bill 2110, which would raise the small claims dollar limit from $1,500 to $2,500, is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rhode Island, along with Kentucky, has the lowest small claims jurisdiction in the country. If the legislation passes, Rhode Island would still have the sixth-lowest jurisdiction. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.

     


  • Utah: Rep. Steven Urquhart’s House Bill 124 would raise the small claims court’s jurisdiction from $5,000 to $7,500. It would also allow non-lawyers to represent parties in small claims cases as long as they do not receive compensation. The bill passed the House on February 17 and is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.

     


  • Wisconsin: Assembly Bill 651 would increase small claims jurisdiction from $5,000 to $10,000 for all types of cases except negligence. It passed the Assembly on February 5 and had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections and Privacy on February 17. Click here to read the full text of the Bill.

Go here to learn more about HALT’s Small Claims Reform activities.  You’ll also find lots of relevant materials on ethicalEsq’s Access Resources page.

Indiana Senator Wants to Take Small Claims Back to the 20th Century

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:30 pm

Halt.org is reporting in its latest eJournal that Indiana “Senator James W. Merritt, Jr. introduced Senate Bill 455, which would reduce the small claims jurisdiction from $6,000 to $3,000. This would effectively repeal the recently passed increase in small claims jurisdiction from $3,000 to $6,000. HALT’s research indicates that no state has ever decreased its small claims jurisdictional limit.”



Click here to see the text of Merritt’s (um) meritless bill.  The digest of the Bill states:


“Small claims courts. Provides that the jurisdictional amount for small claims or city court actions includes attorney’s fees. Reduces to $3,000 the jurisdictional amount in small claims or city court actions not involving landlord-tenant disputes, and removes a provision that would have increased the jurisdictional amount to $6,000 in 2005. Permits a pretrial hearing to determine whether a claim is frivolous. Prohibits the granting of a continuance solely on the basis that the party is not represented by an attorney. Requires the judge to file a brief memorandum documenting the reasons for the judgment.”


no u turn  Earlier this month, we were worried about small claims reform taking backward steps, but not quite this blatantly.



  • Go here to learn more about HALT’s Small Claims Reform activities.

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