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Responding To A Small Claims Counterclaim

Learn what you can do if the person you are suing turns around and sues you, including how to file a response to a Small Claims Counterclaim.


Overview

When you sue someone in small claims court, the person you are suing can turn around and sue you by filing a “counterclaim.” A counterclaim allows the defendant (now called the “counterclaimant”) to have his claim against the plaintiff (now called the “counterdefendant”) decided along with the plaintiff’s claim in the same case.


Q&A – Responding To A Counterclaim


What are my options if I am served with a counterlcaim?

If you are served with a Counterclaim (Small Claims), one of your options is to simply pay the money that the counterclaimant is seeking. You can also try to negotiate with the counterclaimant to resolve the case. You and the counterclaimant are free to work out whatever arrangement you can both agree to – which might involve paying money, but could also involve returning property or performing some service. If you are able to settle the counterclaim, make sure you write out your agreement, that both parties sign it, and that you keep a copy.

FYI! If you’d like help negotiating with the counterclaimant, you may be interested in a FREE service called the Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC). The NJC's no-cost mediation service may be able to help you resolve the dispute. Click to visit Mediating a Small Claims Dispute for more information.

If you and the counterclaimant resolve the counterclaim, the counterclaimant will need to notify the court. In all other jurisdictions besides Las Vegas, the counterclaimant can simply write a letter to the court clerk stating that the counterclaim has been settled. (You will need to make sure the clerk understands that only the counterclaim has been resolved and that your complaint is still going forward, assuming that is the case.) In the Las Vegas small claims court, the counterclaimant must file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal form, which you can download by clicking to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court Small Claims Forms page. The form is also available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download it by clicking the link underneath the form’s title below:

NOTICE OF VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL (LAS VEGAS ONLY)  
LV Pdf Fillable  

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing to learn about filling out legal forms and filing with the court. For more information about the requirements for a small claims case in the Las Vegas Justice Court, click to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court Small Claims page.

TIP! If the counterclaimant hasn’t notified the court that the counterclaim has settled before the date of your small claims hearing, attend the hearing and let the judge know the counterclaim has been resolved.

If you are not able (or do not want) to settle the counterclaim, you do not need to file anything with the court if you have been served with a counterclaim. You simply attend the scheduled court date to defend yourself. The date and time of the mediation or hearing should be stated on the counterclaim you received. For more information, click to visit Going to Small Claims Court.

If you fail to attend the scheduled small claims hearing, the judge could enter a money judgment against you for whatever amount the counterclaimant is requesting. The counterclaimant could then try to collect that judgment by, for example, garnishing your wages or taking the money from your bank account. For more information, click to visit Collecting a Small Claims Judgment or Contesting Collection.

Can I ask the court to dismiss the counterclaim?

If your small claims case is in the Las Vegas Justice Court, you can file a Motion to Dismiss and ask the judge to dismiss the counterclaim if you believe it is legally defective. Simply disagreeing with the defendant’s claim will not be enough. In your motion, you will need to tell the judge what the legal problem is with the defendant’s case. The following are some examples of legal arguments you can make to try and dismiss the case:

  • The small claims court has no jurisdiction because you do not currently live, work, or do business in Las Vegas.
  • The defendant is asking for a remedy that the small claims court cannot grant (for example, the return of a vehicle).
  • The defendant filed the case after the statute of limitations had already run.
  • The debt the defendant is trying to collect has been discharged in bankruptcy.

Your motion will be reviewed by a judge. The judge will decide if she wants to have a hearing on your motion, and if she does, the court will send notice of the hearing date to you and the plaintiff by regular mail. The judge can also issue a decision without a hearing. If you do get a hearing, you should be prepared to state your arguments. If the judge grants your motion, the defendant’s counterclaim will be dismissed. If your motion is denied, the counterclaim will go forward. If either party disagrees with the judge’s decision, they can file an appeal.

You can download a Motion to Dismiss (for use by Plaintiff in Small Claims Case) for the Las Vegas Justice Court by clicking to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court Small Claims Forms page. The form is also available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download it by clicking the link underneath the form’s title below:

LAS VEGAS MOTION TO DISMISS (FOR USE BY PLAINTIFF IN SMALL CLAIMS CASE)
LV Pdf Fillable 

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing to learn how to fill out legal forms and file with the court. For information about the requirements for a small claims case in the Las Vegas Justice Court, click to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court Small Claims page.