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What are Montana Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?

Montana small claims lawsuits are civil suits lodged to resolve conflicts involving sums not exceeding $7,000. These cases are usually resolved at the justice courts. On the other hand, class action cases are combined civil proceedings or lawsuits in which one class defendant represents all the other members who have been harmed, abused, or injured in a similar condition. The small claims courts available in each county have developed court proceedings that help to settle these cases easily and faster. A small claim or a class-action lawsuit may be brought by someone aged 18 and over. A parent or guardian can sue for the complainant under the age of 18 on their behalf.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Montana?

A class action litigation is a civil action generally referred to as a representative action. Montana’s class action lawsuit begins when a class of mistreated parties with the same or related cases files a combined lawsuit. In the court, the entire group is represented by one member of the class and their counsel. According to Montana’s Rules of Civil Procedure, plaintiffs of a class action can sue the defendant on behalf of other members if:

  • Several plaintiffs are involved and it is difficult to bring individual lawsuits.
  • The class delegate is expected to make the same statements and arguments as other members.
  • The class delegate represents the needs of each member of the class and defends them.
  • The claims or defenses of the class can be sustained; the action can not be dismissed willingly without the consent of the court.

In Montana, only persons living at the time of the crime can constitute part of the class of plaintiffs. Nevertheless, if the suspected crime occurs in the state, non-citizens could be included.

How do I File a Claim in a Montana Small Claims Court?

Persons above 18 years are allowed to initiate small claim cases in Montana. The eligible applicants must make a claim of no more than $7,000. Interests, lawyer’s fees, and other legal expenses are not included in this figure. Eligible applicants can pick up a complaints form from the court clerk. The downloadable form should be submitted to the court clerk’s office via mail or in-person. Other documents supporting the claim may be attached. Some important information to include when filing the small claims complaint court are:

  • Witnesses that were part of the deal,
  • The purpose of the deal or agreement
  • When the deal was agreed
  • Who failed to keep the agreement
  • What you require from the court

Note that it is best to file a small claim case where the defendant lives. This is important so that the defendant can be served the notice on time and respond within ten days. A hearing should be set up within 40 days to determine if there will be a settlement or a trial.

Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?

Attorneys are legal professionals that give guidance on specialized fields of law. For starters, advice on legal claims may be provided by an expert business lawyer. Lawyers also advise the plaintiff (their clients) and can defend them in court by the conditions for a small lawsuit. In Montana, though, without a lawyer, it is easy to file a lawsuit. Usually, the court clerk gives the necessary details for submission. Without a prosecutor, it is even likely to go to trial. However, it could be better to employ a lawyer if the allegation is against a big corporation.

How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Montana?

Usually, an entity or class of mistreated or equally injured persons initiates a class-action. Up to 40 individuals are required in Montana for a case to count as a class-action. In the name of the class leader, a lawyer files the lawsuit. Each representative of the class will be told if the judge validates the lawsuit as a class-action. Plaintiffs may take part or bring specific cases in the class-action as a representative. The judge decides the essence of the allegation and whether it satisfies the criteria set out in rule 23 of the Rules for Civil Procedure. This will be used in determining whether a lawsuit should be accredited as a class-action.

Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?

There are both positives and negatives of class-action litigation and single party suits. A class action is a means to pursue compensation where single claims are not severe enough to merit a case. Class-actions are also a way to save legal costs, as one attorney can serve all class representatives. All representatives in a class-action lawsuit, though, are charged simultaneously. Amounts owed to each participant will not be substantial due to the number of individuals. The litigation or resolution process may also not be managed by plaintiffs in a class-action. Class plaintiffs will not bring separate claims over the same crime if the class-action is not productive. Individual cases will be sought by members who believe their rights would not be equally and properly served in a class-action lawsuit.

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 Montana?

According to the Montana Code Annotated (MCA) section 25–35–502, small claims cases may be served by plaintiffs in the justice court within the county. The justice courts have jurisdiction over civil disputes where no more than $12,000 is involved. Each justice court may have a small claim court division that resolves issues below $3000. Other small claims cases under the state’s statutes include:

  • County and municipal ordinance violations
  • Loan cases (bad debt)
  • Failure to return a security deposit
  • Car repair frauds
  • Breach of warranty disputes
  • Defamation cases
  • Eviction and Landlord-tenant disputes
  • Property damage
  • Divorce cases (simplified and uncontested divorces)
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!