Small Claims Division
Louisiana law permits city courts to establish small claims divisions. LA. R.S. 13:5201 The Shreveport City Court has established a Small Claims Division. Local Rule 21
Who can file?
A plaintiff may file an action in the Small Claims Division as long as the amount in dispute does not exceed $5,000. Small claims actions may have no more than 10 plaintiffs in any one case, and no class actions may be filed in the Small Claims Division. Otherwise, a plaintiff may file any civil action in Small Claims Division that could have been filed as a regular civil action.
Small Claims Suit Differences
A suit filed in the Small Claims Division shall be subject to the same procedures as regular civil actions. However, no discovery procedures, such as interrogatories or depositions, are available in the Small Claims Division. While exceptions and motions may be filed, it is the practice of the judges in Small Claims actions to refer all motions to the merits at trial rather than considering them in advance of the trial. In a Small Claims trial, the technical rules of evidence are relaxed, and all relevant evidence is admissible, including hearsay if the judge determines it is reliable. The judge will make a decision on the basis of the competent evidence before the court.
Rules and Requirements
The requirements of a Small Claims Petition are set forth in Local Rule 21 B. The court has made available a sample petition, but a plaintiff may draft their own petition as long as it meets the requirements of the law. The fee for filing a Small Claims petition is $66 with an additional $50 for each defendant over one. There are additional charges for service of process for defendants to be served outside the City of Shreveport.
Plaintiff must assure that a Citation and a copy of the petition be served upon each defendant. Citation or other process may be sent by certified mail and the signed return shall be considered as personal service. If service cannot be made in this manner, plaintiff may make service in the same manner as a regular civil action, which is normally by the Marshal. LA. R.S. 13:5204 A
Each Citation in a Small Claims Action shall contain a notice as follows: LA. R.S. 13:5204 B
THIS LAWSUIT IS FILED IN THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT.
THE ORDINARY RULES OF EVIDENCE DO NOT APPLY IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT.
IF YOU LOSE IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO APPEAL THE COURT’S DECISION.
YOU MAY HAVE THIS CASE TRANSFERRED TO THE REGULAR CIVIL COURT IF YOU
WISH. TO DO SO YOU MUST FILE A WRITTEN NOTICE WITH THE CLERK OF
THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT AND PAY THE APPROPRIATE TRANSFER FEE
WITHIN TEN (10) DAYS OF RECEIVING THIS LETTER.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF WHAT TO DO, YOU SHOULD TALK WITH AN ATTORNEY
ABOUT IT IMMEDIATELY.
How do you begin in Small Claims Court?
The documents that comprise a Small Claims lawsuit are called pleadings. The forms required are: (1) Petition; (2) Statement of Claim; and (3) Soldier’s and Sailor’s Relief Act Affidavit. Filing of these documents, along with payment of the required fees, will institute your Small Claims Suit.
Download examples of each form required
Small Claims Petition
Statement of Claim
Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act
Detailed Information and Step by Step Guidance
The Shreveport City Court has put together a small claims handbook to help guide you through the process.
Download the Small Claims Handbook
This is an informational publication only. The Judges and Court personnel are not allowed to give legal advice. Therefore, you may wish to contact an attorney even if you intend to handle your own case. If you do not have a lawyer, you may wish to contact the Shreveport Bar Association regarding the Lawyer Referral Service, a non-profit public service agency, at Shreveport Bar. If you need the services of an attorney, but feel that you cannot afford one, you may wish to contact Legal Services of North Louisiana at (318)222-7186.