Small Claims Jurisdictional Limit Increase in Iowa; What Options are Available to Try to Recover Money Damages in Iowa's State Courts?
Posted on 07/25/2018 at 10:59 AM by Joseph Borg
Effective July 1, 2018, the jurisdictional limit for small claims actions in Iowa was increased from $5,000.00 to $6,500.00. What that means is that if you are seeking a money judgment in the amount of $6,500.00 or less, the action for money judgment must be brought in small claims court. The $6,500.00 amount is exclusive of interest and costs so if you are entitled to payment of your attorneys’ fees, that amount is not figured into the $6,500.00 cap. Small claims actions do not go through a discovery process and generally proceed to trial before the Court within a month or two after service of the petition.
Effective January 1, 2015, Iowa courts implemented a separate civil action called the “expedited civil action.” If you are seeking a money judgment in an amount between $6,501.00 and $75,000.00, you have the option to bring your claim as an expedited civil action. Some of the benefits of choosing an expedited civil action include the simplified and limited discovery process, the two-day trial limit, and the fact that the case will go to trial within 12 months from the date the petition is filed. An expedited civil action can serve to keep some litigation costs down, however, keep in mind that the $75,000.00 cap includes damages of any kind, pre-filing interest, attorneys’ fees, and any penalties.
If you are seeking a money judgment in excess of $6,501.00 you can always file a standard civil action. The standard civil action will generally proceed to trial within 12 months from the filing date of the petition if tried to the Court, and within 18 months from the filing date of the petition if tried to a jury. The biggest benefit to proceeding through the standard civil action is there is no cap on the amount of recoverable damages.
If you are seeking to recover money damages in Iowa, it is best to understand the available options and to proceed with the legal action that makes the most sense to your specific case.
The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.
- Joseph Borg
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