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  • General Information Regarding Small Claims

    Small claims suits cannot exceed $3500, excluding interest and court costs. Small Claims is an informal method of resolving civil disputes; formal rules of procedure do not apply.  Procedures in small claims cases are intedned to be simple enough for a person to file all the necessary forms and represent him/herself at an informal hearing.  Parties may not be represented by attorneys.  The decision in a small claims case is final and binding on both parties.  There is no right to a jury trial or an appeal.

    There are two specific motions allowed by law in a small claims action. These are Motion for Change of Venue (Location) and Motion to Vacate a Judgment.

    What types of cases can be filed in Small Claims Court?

     The Court only has jurisdiction to hear cases concerning specific issues. Typical cases eligible for small claims include the following:

    • Breach of a written or oral contract.
    • Return of money used as a down payment.
    • Damage to or loss of property.
    • Consumer complaints for defective merchandise or faulty workmanship.
    • Collection of payment for work performed.
    • Claims based on bad checks.
    • Claims for back rent or security deposit

    Types of cases that cannot be filed in Small Claims Court include:

    • Seeking injunctive relief.
    • Actions for specific performance.
    • A claim of defamation, libel or slander.
    • Action brought or defended on behalf of a class.
    • Request for or involvement of prejudgment remedies.
    • Forcible entry, forcible detainer or unlawful detainer (eviction).
    • Action against this state, its officers or employees of any city, county, or other political subdivision in their capacity and damages sought.


    If the complaint has been filed in the wrong precinct, the defendant can file a Motion for Change of Venue. The form may be obtained from the court. The plaintiff may file an objection to the requested change. If the court orders a change of venue, the case shall be transferred to the proper precinct and the plaintiff shall pay all fees. The motion alleging improper venue must be made before filing the ANSWER. If the defendant fails to file a timely request for a change of venue, that right is waived.

    Plaintiff Instructions

    Step 1: Obtain Complaint Form

    Print the Summons/Complaint form and complete as instructed below.  This form is also available at the courthouse.

    Step 2: Complete the Header Caption at the Top of the Form

    Plaintiff: Fill out your name, address, and phone number, as well as the defendant's name, address and phone number. It's important that you name the correct party. The defendant may be an individual, landlord, corporation or business.
    • Individuals: If your lawsuit is against someone who is married, you must also name that person's spouse as a defendant because of Arizona's community property law. Most property and income acquired by a married couple during the marriage belongs to both of them equally. If you do not know the name of the spouse, or are not sure whether the person is married, use the names "Jane Doe" Smith or "John Doe" Smith. If you do not name the spouse and you win your lawsuit, you will not be able to garnish the unnamed defendant's wages or to collect your judgment out of any community bank accounts or property.
    • Landlords: If the lawsuit is against your landlord, the defendant is the individual or corporation listed on the lease. To find the property owner's name and address, contact the County Assessor's office at (520) 724-8636 or on line at www.asr.co.pima.az.us.
    • Corporations: The Corporation is the defendant, but the complaint is served to the statutory agent. Find out the name and address of the corporation's statutory agent by contacting the Arizona Corporation Commission, (520) 628-6560, located at 400 W. Congress, Suite 221, Tucson, Arizona. Every corporation authorized to do business in this state must appoint a statutory agent who is authorized to accept service of lawsuits on the corporation's behalf.
    • Businesses: You can find out who holds the license and who owns the business by visiting the City of Tucson Business License Office at City Hall, 255 W. Alameda, first floor, Tucson, Arizona.

    Step 3: Complete the Portion Title "Small Claims Complaint"

    In the portion title "Small Claims Complaint", on the Complaint form you obtained in Step 1, please complete items 1-4. 

    Step 4: File Your Complaint

    File the complaint at the Green Valley Justice Court.  There is a $35 filing fee payable by cash, personal check, cashier's check, Visa or MasterCard. The clerk will assign a case number at the time of filing.

    Step 5: Serve the Defendant

    You are required by law to serve the complaint to the defendant notifying him/her that an action has been filed. If you are suing more than one person, you must serve a separate copy of the summons and complaint to each defendant. Serve the original to one defendant and make photocopies to serve to the others.

    The easiest and least expensive method for serving the complaint is by mailing it to the defendant certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery. Service by certified mail is handled at any post office. The postal service will require the defendant to sign for the letter on a green postcard. The postcard will be returned to you as your receipt that the complaint was received by the defendant. A delivery receipt from the postal service web page is also acceptable. You must file this postcard or receipt with the court, either in person or by first class mail. NOTE: If you file your complaint on-line, the court will return the paperwork to you to serve to the defendant.

    If the defendant refuses or fails to sign for the certified mail, you will have to serve him or her using a process server or constable. You may contact the constable's office at 724-5442. Process servers can be found in the local yellow pages or online at http://www.arizonaprocessservers.org. The cost of hiring a constable or process server will be added to your judgment if you win the lawsuit, along with the cost of filing the complaint.

    If you attempt to serve the defendant by certified mail and it is returned to you by the post office as unclaimed, you will need to take the unopened envelop to the court. The court clerk will open the envelope and issue a replacement summons which you will then provide to the process server or constable for delivery to the defendant.

    What Happens After the Defendant Has Been Served

    The defendant has twenty (20) calendar days after being served with the complaint to respond. The defendant's response is called an answer. If the defendant is served by certified mail, the 20-day response period begins when the defendant signs the green certified mail postcard. If the date on the green postcard is missing or illegible, the time begins when you file the return receipt with the court. 

    When the defendant answers (responds) the court will assign your case a hearing date within sixty (60) days of the defendant's response. The defendant may also file a counterclaim, meaning s/he could in turn file a suit against you.

    If you do not file an answer to the counterclaim, judgment by default may be entered against you. If you choose to go to hearing, the hearing date will be set within sixty (60) days of your response. In this instance there are now two claims before the court: the original complaint that you filed against the defendant and the counterclaim the defendant filed against you.

    If the defendant fails to answer the complaint (respond), you can file a default judgment packet on or after the 21st day. The fee for filing a default is $28. You must mail this form, First Class mail, to the defendant the same day you file it and if s/he fails to answer in ten (10) or more business days, the Court will generally enter a default judgment, finding in your favor.

    Note: You can always settle your case outside of court up until the day of hearing. If you arrive at an agreement with the defendant, you must contact the court and file a dismissal form. The dismissal form must also be signed by the defendant if s/he has filed an answer with the court.

    Defendant Instructions

    Step 1: Obtain the Answer Form

    The Answer form can be printed on-line or obtained at the courthouse. You have twenty (20) days to file an answer to the complaint once it has been served. If you are served by certified mail, the twenty (20) days begins when you sign the green certified mail postcard. If the date on the green certified mail postcard is missing or illegible, the time begins when the plaintiff files the return receipt with the court.

    If you do not answer and pay the answer fee within the 20-day time period, the plaintiff may file for a judgment by default. If you fail to answer the judgment by default summons in 10 (ten) business days, the plaintiff may win the small claims case by default.

    Step 2: Complete the Caption

    Fill out the Plaintiff's name, address, and phone number, as well as the your name, address and phone number.

    Step 3: Complete Items

    Complete the items on the Answer form.  Then sign and date the form where noted.

    Step 4:  Certificate of Mailing

    You are required to mail a copy of the Answer to the Plaintiff at the address listed on the Complaint.  Sign and Date the Certification at the bottom of the form.

    Step 5:  File a Copy of your Answer with the Court

    The fee for filing the answer is $15.00 payable by cash, personal check, cashier's check, VISA or MasterCard.

    Step 6: File Counter-Claim (if applicable)

    If you have a claim for money against the plaintiff, you may file a counterclaim at the same time as you file your answer. Counterclaim forms are also available online or at the court. There is no fee to file a counterclaim.
    • Complete the Caption entering the name/address/phone number for you and the Plaintiff.
    • Complete items on the complaint form.  The dollar amount of the claim may include court costs.
    • Date and Sign the form
    • Complete the Certificate of Mailing.

    Mail a copy of the answer and/or counterclaim by first class mail to the plaintiff.

    Keep a copy for your records.

    The plaintiff must file a written reply to the counterclaim. If the plaintiff does not file an answer, judgment by default may be entered against the plaintiff.

    If you respond and the case proceeds to hearing, the court will assign the case a hearing date. The hearing date will be held within sixty (60) days of your response.

    Note: If the plaintiff settles after you have filed an answer to the complaint, you both must sign the dismissal form.
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    Justice Court - Green Valley

    601 N. La Cañada Drive
    Green Valley, AZ 85614


    Phone: (520) 222-0200
    Fax: (520) 648-2235 

    No-Reply Email: GVJC@COURTS.AZ.GOV

    Monday - Friday
    8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Closed weekends and legal holidays.

    Payments accepted 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

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