Minnesota Small Claims in Conciliation Court: An Overview

From maximum dollar limits to statutes of limitations, learn the basics about small claims in Minnesota Conciliation Court.

What's the small claims dollar limit in Minnesota Conciliation Court?

You can ask for up to $15,000 in a small claims action in Minnesota Conciliation Court—the court that handles small claims matters in Minnesota. The amount for claims involving consumer credit transactions is limited to $4,000, however.

Can a landlord bring an eviction lawsuit in a Minnesota small claims court?

Evictions are not heard in Minnesota Conciliation Court; however, other disputes between landlords and tenants are allowed. It’s also an excellent forum for other types of cases typically brought in small claims courts, too, such as property damage cases and breach of contract disputes.

Which Minnesota Conciliation Court should I file my small claims action in?

Minnesota has many Conciliation Courts. You must choose the proper court location or venue; otherwise, the defendant—the person or company you sue—will be able to ask the court to transfer or dismiss your action. In Minnesota, you can file in the county where:

  • the defendant lives (the person against whom you are making a claim (the defendant), or
  • the business or branch office is located (if the defendant is a company).

You might have other options, depending on your case. Most courts post venue rules on the court website.

When must I file a case in small claims court in Minnesota?

You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to file a lawsuit. You’ll have to bring it within the statute of limitations period for your particular case. For example, you’ll have six years for property damage and contract cases, and two years for injury cases. If you don’t file within this period, you lose your right to sue.

The statute of limitations can stop and restart depending on various circumstances, and figuring out when it expires can be challenging. For instance, if a minor is injured, the personal injury statute won’t begin running until the child reaches 18 years of age. Learn more about calculating the statute of limitations.

Can an attorney represent a small claims claimant in Minnesota Conciliation Court?

No. Lawyers cannot appear on behalf of small claims plaintiffs or claimants.

Does the defendant have to answer the small claims complaint?

No. In Minnesota, the defendant doesn’t have to file an answer before the hearing. The defendant can avoid an automatic default judgment by appearing at the hearing, and can put forth a defense then. Learn what happens if you get sued in small claims court.

Will I have a judge or jury trial in small claims court in Minnesota?

A judge will hear your case at the Conciliation hearing. Find out what to expect at the small claims trial.

Can I appeal a Minnesota Conciliation Court case?

Yes. Either side can appeal the Conciliation judgment by filing the appropriate paperwork with the court administrator within twenty days of the mailing of the judgment. You must file the appeal within the proper time. Keep in mind that you’ll have less than twenty days since time is calculated from the mailing date, not the date you receive the judgment.

Will the court collect my judgment for me?

No. You’ll be responsible for all collection efforts. It’s a good idea to determine whether you can collect before deciding whether to sue.

Where can I learn more about small claims court in Minnesota?

Most courts include filing instructions on the court website or provide self-help services. For additional resources, try Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Conciliation Court or the Minnesota Attorney General’s Guide to Small Claims. You can also view Minnesota law online on the Minnesota Legislature website (Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 491A.01 to 491A.03; General Practice Rules, Rules 501 to 525).

For detailed help with case filing, court strategy, and collecting a money judgment, see Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court by Attorney Cara O'Neill (Nolo).

Look out for Legal Changes. This overview doesn’t provide all of the information needed to file a small claims case. Also, keep in mind that statutes can change, and checking them is always a good idea. How the courts interpret and apply the law can also change. These are just some of the reasons to consult an attorney if you have any questions about litigating your case or if you aren’t comfortable independently verifying the law.

Updated February 5, 2020

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