What are Arkansas Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?
Arkansas small claims cases are civil suits that get resolved in court under modified rules of procedure for persons seeking to get compensations of up to $5000. The Small Claims Division of the District Courts of the state handles these cases. Key features are the absence of attorney representation and less complex legal processes. The laws of the state give interpretation and direction to resolve small claims cases in the state.
A Class Action Lawsuit in Arkansas is a legal provision that allows the corporate prosecution of identical cases by representing attorneys. All cases in a class action share common injuries by the same offending party. The District Courts Civil Division handles class action suits in the state.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Arkansas?
According to Rule 23, Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, class actions are joint lawsuits created by multiple compensatory claims against the same offending entity. It is also known as mass litigation. When there is a mass litigation, one or more members of the class represent the entire plaintiff group by suing the offending entity. The class action must meet some criteria in order to get certified by the court of law:
- There are so many similar cases that the court cannot adjudicate them individually without errors or discrepancies in judgment
- These cases have the same questions of the law or facts in common
- The claims of the defending class representatives must be typical of the class claim as a whole
- The class representatives commit to representing the interests of the class.
How do I File a Claim in an Arkansas Small Claims Court?
To file at a small claims court in Arkansas, follow these steps:
- Decide on the right court to file the case. Choosing the wrong courthouse location can lead to the dismissal of the case. The courthouse address must be where the defendant lives, where the obligation was to take place, or where the injury took place. The office of the Secretary of State provides a directory on company addresses in the state. Use the directory to get the accurate address, if the defendant is a business.
- Be sure the deadline of the statute of limitations is still valid. According to the laws of the state, it is three years for personal injury, personal property matters and oral contracts, while it is five years for written contracts. If the injured person is a minor, the statute of limitations become active when they attain the age of adulthood.
- Complete the complaint form. Get this either at the court clerk’s office or online at the court website. Provide full names and address; legal names and address of defendant; the amount of money being claimed or property to be recovered; the basis for the claim. Sign the form and submit it to the court clerk. The court clerk in turns hand the summons over for service to the defendant. A filing party can serve the summons by certified mail (with a proof of delivery service), or through a sheriff/ court-approved process server. The filing party must not serve the papers personally. Although the plaintiff bears the cost of service, he or she will get a refund if they recover the monetary claim.
- The defendant must respond in writing either to opt of settlement, or file a counterclaim, with the court clerk where the plaintiff has filed. A counterclaim means the case must proceed to a court hearing. A defendant has a maximum of 30 days to file a response to avoid the entry of a default judgment, and hence a court order.
Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?
No. unless the judge approves based on circumstances, attorneys do not feature in small claims courts. If the suit has connecting cases that require the need for an attorney, the judge may grant an exception.
How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Arkansas?
Class action lawsuits in Arkansas work by pooling similar cases together into one mega suite against a common defendant. It is useful in seeking redress for the violation of human rights by large corporations or government agencies. Examples of objects of class action in Arkansas are finance scams, deceptive advertising practices, fake products, professional malpractice, etc. Also called mass tort litigation. A class action usually begins by an informal consultation with a legal expert by a few persons with complaints. After review, the small team identifies other injured parties. When the number of people are sufficiently adequate, they jointly file for class action certification. After certification, the case proceeds on full trial. Members are of the class get notified of the intentions of participation in class action, they can decide to join or decline. Also, at any point in time, a class member can decide to opt out of the class and file individually. The implication is that the outcome of the class action will not apply to the party. Class actions are major civil disputes, hence attorney representation is a key feature. After suing, the defendant receives the notice of summons and the timeline during which the defendant must respond. The defendant can opt for a settlement. Here, the court hearing will be to formalise the arrangements, terms and conditions of the settlement. If the defendant files a counterclaim, then the trial date is scheduled and both parties prepare documents and evidence towards the hearing. Class actions are laborious and time consuming, sometimes rolling into years.
Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?
Generally, yes. Class action lawsuits are efficient tools for seeking justice for civil rights violations. The existence of a public opinion generates subtle pressure on the legal system to sustain justice and fairness on the case. Persons who otherwise may not have been able to speak up for their rights get justice through class action. A major setback is that class actions do not attend to individuals’ peculiarities within a case. Only the component of the case that is common to the class gets adjudicated. It also takes longer, sometimes spanning into years.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the document or person involved
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.
What Cases are Heard by Small Claims Courts in Arkansas?
Some small claims cases heard in Arkansas District Courts include:
- Security deposits
- Warranty breaches
- Contract disputes
- Employment claims
All these cases are admissible in the small claims division, only if the monetary value involved is equal to or below $5000. Bankruptcy cases do not qualify for small claims courts in Arkansas.