Introduction

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The maximum amount for which you can sue–or be sued–in small claims court varies from state to state. For example, it's $7,500 in Minnesota, $1,500 in Kentucky, and $10,000 in Texas. You'll find the limits for other states in the Appendix, but because these can change, you'll always want to check by calling your local small claims court clerk or checking your local court rules. With some exceptions, small claims courts do not hear cases unless they are for money damages. Thus, you can't use small claims court to get a divorce, stop the city from cutting down your favorite oak tree, change your name, or do many of the thousands of other things that require a solution other than one side paying money to the other.

One exception to the "money only" rule involves equitable relief. This is legalspeak for a court's power to order a person or business to do something specific, such as return a uniquely valuable piece of property or change a contract that contains an obvious mistake. These remedies are discussed in "Equitable Relief," below.

Another exception to the money-only rule involves evictions. In some states, a landlord can use small claims court to evict tenants in certain situations. (See Chapter 20 and the Appendix for more information.)

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