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If you want to make a civil claim, the first thing you need to do is determine if the court can hear your case. Not every kind of civil case can be heard by the court.  You may know that the court hears cases involving money damages up to $15,000, but there are a few other things you need to think about when deciding if you may be able to file your civil claim to Garfield Heights Municipal Court:

  1. Jurisdiction
  2. Venue

Jurisdiction is the court’s ability to hear a type of case. If your claim deals with money damages with a value of up to $15,000 not including interest and court costs, the civil division can hear your case. If you want to ask for more than $15,000 in damages, you need to take your claim to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Venue is the location where the case can be heard. The Garfield Heights Municipal Court is the correct venue for your case if you answer “yes” to any of the following questions:

Can you answer YES to one of these questions?

Does the person you are suing live in one of these municipalities…

  • Brecksville
  • Cuyahoga Heights
  • Garfield Heights
  • Independence
  • Maple Heights
  • Newburgh Heights
  • Valley View
  • Walton Hills

Does the person you are suing regularly conduct business in one of these municipalities…

Did the incident or transaction that caused the lawsuit happen in one of these municipalities…


If you have a claim that involves money damages that does not exceed $15,000, and you answered "yes" to any one of the questions above, your civil claim can be heard in the Garfield Heights Municipal Court.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. In civil cases, individuals can decide whether or not they will need a lawyer.

You do not have to hire a lawyer. However, civil cases are the most complex claims heard at Garfield Heights Municipal Court. You are going to have to know the Ohio Rules of Evidence and the Ohio Civil Rules of Procedure. Very few people can represent themselves without a lawyer.  It is recommended that you see a lawyer before filing a lawsuit or once you are served with a lawsuit.

Corporations and limited liability companies can sue and be sued. Corporations and limited liability companies must be represented by a lawyer.  Someone who is not a lawyer, such as an employee, may give testimony or evidence but may not act as attorneys. In civil cases, non-lawyers can only provide testimony to facts that they personally know and they can provide documents to support their side.  They may not examine or cross-examine any witness, present legal arguments, or do other things lawyers normally do such as present motions and prepare affidavits. Individuals appearing for companies or corporations should consult with a lawyer before trial.

If you are in a partnership you may be represented by a general partner or a lawyer but it is best to contact a lawyer to review your case before you decide to represent yourself.

To find a lawyer, call the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association at 216-696-3532 or visit their website.

Settling Out of Court

Parties often discuss their differences with one another and attempt to resolve their dispute before they come to court. 

Can we settle out of court, without going to trial?

Yes. There are a number of ways that you and the other party may avoid going to court.

Demand Letters

A demand letter is a formal notice that demands the other person (or corporation) performs a legal obligation, such as fixing a problem, paying a sum of money or honoring a contractual agreement. The letter gives the recipient a chance to perform the obligation without being taken to court, if the action is taken according to specific terms and within a specified time.

After reading the demand letter, the recipient should have a clear understanding of the sender’s issue and how best to settle the matter. The sender should be sure to be fair regarding the specified terms. If there is no settlement, the demand letter may later be used in court and the judge should be satisfied that the sender’s terms were reasonable.

Collection Agencies

A collection agency is a business that pursues payments on debts owed by individuals or businesses. Most collection agencies operate as agents and collect debts for a fee or percentage of the total amount owed. The main advantage of hiring a collection agency is that it becomes their business to get payment from the other party. In addition, amounts that are not paid to a collection agency may become part of the credit history of the owing party. In this way, debtors are motivated to make payment and settle disputes.

Settling the Case Before Trial

If you reach an agreement to settle the case, the plaintiff must submit a statement to the clerk of court that gives notice of the settlement. 

The case number must be included on the statement.  The statement may be submitted in person, by U.S. Mail, or by fax at 216-475-3087.

If the settlement notice is sent to the clerk of court before the next hearing date, the case can be removed from the judge’s calendar and you will not need to appear in court.  If you settle the case, but a notice is not submitted before the court date, you should appear and tell the judge the outcome of the case.

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