What are Indiana Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?
In Indiana, small claims lawsuits are cases of civil litigation concerning contract breaches or legal obligations. In the state, the offended person can demand up to $8,000. Similar to most states in the country, these cases are handled by a county small claims court in Indiana. Small claims lawsuits are filed based on the contract type. These are written & oral contracts, injury damage, and property damage. The Small Claims Court enables all residents to present a lawsuit informally. These courts were established to have a speedy, uncomplicated, and inexpensive means of determining the claim. Court proceedings concerning small claims in Indiana are disclosed in the Indiana small claims rules.
On the other hand, class action lawsuits are small claims or trials filed by a group of individuals led by a class action attorney. This type of case is file-able at any federal or state court in Indiana. The litigants have to prove that the defendant broke the law while the court is responsible for certifying the class and evaluating the proposed claim’s legality. Any person is entitled to file a class action so long as the fundamental requirements are met.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Indiana?
In Indiana, class action lawsuits are legal methods that enable many individuals with small claims to pool resources and bring civil actions against a company. This is a case whereby multiple plaintiffs present similar injury claims against a company believed to have perpetrated pervasive or systemic abuse. This type of lawsuit is covered under US federal law. Therefore class action suits are filed in the state’s federal courts. The laws that guide class action court proceedings are stated in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23.
The following are some common class action suits in Indiana:
- Consumer fraud and deception
- Identity theft
- Consumer protection act (telephone)
- Insurance bad faith practices
- Hidden fees
- Antitrust violations and price-fixing
- Predatory lending
- Defective or harmful products
- Investment & securities fraud
- Environmental disasters
How do I File a Claim in an Indiana Small Claims Court?
To file a small claims action in Indiana, the litigant must adhere to the following rules:
- The litigant must obtain and complete multiple Notice of Claim forms. Interested persons can get these forms from the office of the clerk at no cost. The party should clearly and briefly state the amount and nature of the claim. Further information can be presented in court after a trial date has been set.
- The litigant will be required to disclose details such as the name, phone numbers, and defendant’s address to the court clerk. The petitioner should ensure to get the name of the defendant. For instance, in an automobile accident, the litigant should sue the person driving the other car and not the insurance company.
- Interested persons should note that they have to pay the cost of filing the suit. However, if the petitioner wins the case, then the offender will have to repay the charge.
Interested parties should be aware that they have to choose the correct courthouse or venue to file the suit. Otherwise, the defense party can ask the court to dismiss the claim. The appropriate county location to file a lawsuit in Indiana can be any of the following:
- where the accused works or lives
- The area where the incident or transaction took place
- where the obligation was to be executed by the other party or where it was made
- In the region or county where the property is (for landlord and tenant cases)
Other documents needed when filing a suit include leases, canceled checks, photos of destroyed goods, any signed contracts, warranties, and more. Pursuant to The Indiana Statute of Limitation (IN Code sect. 35–41–4–2), written contract suits have a deadline of 10 years.
Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?
In Indiana, the small claims court does not require an individual to employ an attorney. Although the petitioner may hire a lawyer if desired. However, it is unlikely that the litigant will get the defendant to pay the legal fees even if after winning. This is only possible if there was an agreement concerning such.
How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Indiana?
The following are the basic steps to take when filing a class-action lawsuit in Indiana:
- The legal advisor of the plaintiffs will complete and submit a complaint to the court.
- A class certification will be required from all the involved plaintiffs. Deciding to join the class action means the members no longer have the right to file a single-party action against the accused. For the class certification, the plaintiffs will have to meet certain requirements. This includes (1) The number of the plaintiffs, (2) The commonality & legality of the claim (3) The lead plaintiffs or representatives should protect the interests of the entire group.
- After the certification of the class is complete, then the process of litigation begins. After the discovery and pretrial motions, both parties will begin settlement negotiations. The settlement will be shared among the plaintiffs and representatives.
Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?
Yes, class action lawsuits are more successful in Indiana than private suits. However, both have their advantages and disadvantages. One major disadvantage in class action lawsuits is, not all the plaintiffs have a say over the situation. The lead plaintiffs and the representatives are the ones that make most of the decisions. However, below are some of the advantages of class action lawsuits:
- Cheaper to Litigate
- The odds for financial recovery is higher
- A better level of uniformity hence a more convincing case
- Litigation opportunity for everyone
- Representation by a more credible lawyer
- Greater Efficiency in terms of verdict consistency
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the document or person involved
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.
What Cases are Heard by Small Claims Courts in Indiana?
The Indiana county small claims courts are constitutionally empowered to hear and resolve small civil cases. As stated in the small claims manual, all cases have a dollar limit of $8,000. The following are the types of cases handled in Indiana small claims courts;
- Eviction cases
- Damage to personal property
- Breach of contract
- Landlord & tenant emergency possessory actions (Indiana code 32–31–6)
- When a tenant breaches a lease agreement
- Return of money paid for poor work or a property gotten illegally
- work, Eight Thousand dollars ($8,000.00) or less
- When an individual fails to pay for services rendered by another person