What is a counterclaim? (back to top)
A counterclaim is a claim for relief brought by the defendant against the plaintiff. If you have been sued and have a claim that arose out of the same subject matter described in the plaintiff’s complaint, you must file a counterclaim or your claim may be waived.
If you have a claim against the plaintiff that is unrelated to the facts presented in the plaintiff’s claim, you may choose to file a counterclaim now or you may file your new claim separately. If you choose to file your counterclaim separately it will be treated as a new lawsuit and you will be required to pay the filing fees and court fees associated with filing new lawsuits.
What is the jurisdictional limit for a counterclaim? (back to top)
Your counterclaim cannot be more than $6,000, not including court costs and interest. You cannot ask for anything other than money because that would be beyond the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Division. Also, you cannot file for libel, slander, abuse of (legal) process, malicious prosecution, or to recover “punitive damages.”
If you have a counterclaim for more than $6,000, you will have to decide whether it is best for you to file it for $6,000 and have it heard in the Small Claims Division or to file it for the higher amount and transfer the case to the general division of the Court. If you decide to file for the higher amount, you must pay a transfer fee of $45.00 (this fee is the difference between the small claims filing fee and the general division civil case filing fee). If the fee is not paid, the case will remain in the Small Claims Division where it is subject to the jurisdictional limit of $6,000.
How do I complete the counterclaim form? (back to top)
A preprinted counterclaim form is available for download at Court Forms. Copies of the form are also available in the Small Claims Office.
First, enter the names of the parties and the case number at the top of the form on the lines provided. The identities of the parties remain the same: the plaintiff in the complaint is still the plaintiff in the counterclaim. You are still the defendant.
Second, in the space provided, explain the facts that support your counterclaim. If more space is needed, you may an additional page. It is not necessary to answer the plaintiff’s complaint, or explain your efforts to collect the debt.
When should I file my counterclaim? (back to top)
The counterclaim must be filed at least seven (7) days before the trial date. If you decide to file a counterclaim less than seven days before the trial date, you must contact the magistrate to whom the case is assigned and obtain permission to file your counterclaim. Telephone numbers for the Magistrates’ offices are available at http://www.fcmcclerk.com/officials/court.php or in the “blue pages” of the telephone book under Franklin County of, Municipal Court.
How do I file my counterclaim? (back to top)
File the original with the Clerk of Courts, Civil Division on the 3rd floor at 375 South High Street. The cost of filing a counterclaim is $20.00 plus the cost of serving the plaintiff, $6.00 per party for certified mail service, and $25.00 per party for personal (or residence) service by a court bailiff. You do not need to pay a service cost if you mail a copy of the counterclaim to the plaintiff. All filing fees and court costs may be paid by cash, check, or money order made payable to Franklin County Municipal Court. The Clerk also accepts VISA and MasterCard.
How is the plaintiff notified of the counterclaim? (back to top)
You must mail a copy of the counterclaim to the plaintiff, or to the plaintiff’s attorney, and any other defendants, or to their attorneys. You can do this by mailing the counterclaim by ordinary U.S. Mail or you may ask the court to serve the plaintiff for you (for a fee). You must include a “Certificate of Service” that states that copies were served upon all other parties. A blank certificate of service may be found in Court Forms.
How will the case be decided? (back to top)
The magistrate will make a judgment as to the plaintiff's complaint against you, and a judgment as to your counterclaim against the plaintiff. Each judgment may be enforced in the same manner as with any other civil judgment.
Who should I contact if I need legal advice or more information? (back to top)
The Court, including Small Claims Division staff, judges, magistrates, bailiffs, and other court staff, cannot give legal advice. If you have a specific question regarding your legal rights or responsibilities, you should contact an attorney. If you need or want an attorney to represent you, you may call The Columbus Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at 614-221-0754 or toll-free at 877-560-1014, or visit http://www.columbuslawyerfinder.com/ for more information about obtaining an attorney.
If you have questions about procedures in Small Claims Court you may contact the Small Claims Division at 614-645-7381 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may contact the Clerk of Court Civil Division at 614-645-7220 if you have a question about any of the court records for your case. The Small Claims Division and the Clerk of Court are open from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday.
In addition, the court maintains a website where you may view case information http://www.fcmcclerk.com/case/.