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What are Colorado Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?
Small claims cases and class action lawsuits are civil legal procedures that involve claims between individuals or between individuals and organizations. Small claims cases are filed by one petitioner against an individual or an organization, while class action lawsuits are filed by a class of persons with the same claims. In Colorado, small claims cases involve disputes about contracts, landlord/tenant disputes, and money recovery. County courts handle small claims cases that involve no more than $25,000. District courts handle other civil cases, including class action lawsuits. Persons who are 18 years and older or emancipated persons may file small claims and be part of a Colorado class action.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Colorado?
A class action lawsuit involves many individuals who share similar grievances against a company. If more than one person suffers an injury or a contract breach, receives a faulty product, or otherwise suffer similar losses from the same defendant, such persons may come together in a class to file a legal claim against the organization. One or two persons represent the class of claimants in a class action lawsuit. Typically, class action lawsuits are less expensive as they involve a group bringing one case. In Colorado, the Rules of Civil Procedure guide class action lawsuits. As long as the claimants are so many that it is pointless or impractical for the claimants to file individual claims, the law permits a class action lawsuit.
How do I File a Claim in a Colorado Small Claims Court?
Eligible persons who are 18 years or older who want to file small claims in Colorado must first determine whether the case is eligible for a small claim in Colorado. Although the state’s small claims court hears cases of claims of up to $25,000, plaintiffs may only claim up to $7,500, excluding costs and interests.
The plaintiff must then identify the appropriate court to file the claim. The plaintiff may only file small claims in the county court in the county where the defendant lives, works, runs a business or attends school. The plaintiff may begin a small claims case by filing a Notice, Claim, and Summons to Appear for Trial form with the County Court Clerk. The plaintiff must then pay a filing fee, which depends on the amount involved in the case. Persons who cannot afford to pay the filing fees may file a Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit and a Finding and Order Concerning Payment of Fees. The plaintiff must serve the defendant a copy of the summons at least 15 days before the trial date. Otherwise, the court may dismiss the case or reschedule the trial. After the plaintiff has served the defendant, both parties must prepare for mediation or a trial.
Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?
No, small claims case parties in Colorado do not need a lawyer. As provided by Colorado Small Claims Rules, individuals may not have attorneys in a small claims case. Case parties may only be Pro Se litigants. However, organizations, unions, associations, or partnerships may appoint an attorney to represent the entity in court, provided that the attorney is a full-time employee of the organization. However, case parties may seek legal advice from lawyers.
How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Colorado?
In Colorado, class action lawsuits may be based on contract breach, personal injury, dangerous products, fraud, and other types of cases. When many people have legal claims against the same defendant, the court may certify the plaintiffs as a class. To pursue a class action lawsuit, the plaintiff, which is the person who files the lawsuit on behalf of the class, must ensure that the lawsuit fulfills the following requirements:
- All class members must have similar case defenses and common legal issues.
- The class action must adequately represent all the class members’ interests.
- The class representative must file a class certification petition with the court.
- The class representative or class counsel must make an effort to notify all absent class members of the case status.
- The class representatives must adequately and fairly represent the class.
When the court certifies the class, the representatives must notify all absent members of the class. Similarly, all absent members of the class must be notified of any judgment, settlement, compromise, or dismissal. Class members may opt out of a class action or object to the court’s judgment. After the court certifies a class, and the case undergoes the discovery process, the case may proceed to trial. Typically, class action lawsuits in Colorado take much longer than individual lawsuits.
Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?
The success of a class action or a single party suit depends on the case particulars. Class action suits are better for when it is too expensive to file a single party suit or when the plaintiff’s interest will not be best served in a single party suit. When the same defendant has similarly wronged a large number of people, a class action is a go-to option. On the other hand, single party suits may be more successful when the plaintiff has sufficient grounds or claims.
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What Cases are Heard by Small Claims Courts in Colorado?
Small claims courts in Colorado hear cases where the claim amount does not exceed $7500. Such cases may involve:
- Funds recovery
- Property damage and other residential property disputes
- Contract breach disputes
- landlord/tenant disputes