June 30, 2011 – The 2011-13 biennial state budget increases the jurisdictional amount for small claims actions in Wisconsin from $5,000 or less to $10,000 or less, effective with actions commenced on July 1, 2011.
However, the increase does not apply to third-party complaints, personal injury claims, or tort claims, which remain at the current jurisdictional amount.
Gov. Walker signed the budget act, 2011 Wisconsin Act 32, at a ceremony in Green Bay on Sunday, June 26, 2011, and did not veto the small claims provisions, which had been inserted into the budget by the Joint Finance Committee.
The modification also results in an increase from $5,000 to $10,000 in the maximum amount the state could pay for claims against the state without submission of a claims bill to the Legislature.
Small claims actions are civil actions where the amount claimed is $5,000 or less, if the actions or proceedings are: (a) for money judgments only, except for cognovit judgments (default judgments on agreements where the debtor accepted liability); (b) for garnishment or most attachments; or (c) to enforce a lien upon movable assets.
According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, by increasing the jurisdictional limit for small claims actions, a shift of cases will likely occur from large claims cases to small claims cases. Since civil action filings are not classified by specific dollar amounts, and many large claims filing do not identify amounts sought, the number of cases that would shift is unknown.
The current cost to file a small claims action is $94.50, including a $22 filing fee, $51 court support services surcharge, and $21.50 justice information surcharge. The cost to file a civil action where the amount is $5,001 or more is $265.50, including a $75 filing fee, $169 court support services surcharge, and $21.50 justice information surcharge. Except for the change in the jurisdictional amount, these fees are not affected by the budget act.
Continue to monitor WisBar.org and visit the State Bar’s Government Relations page for updated information on these issues.
By Adam Korbitz, Government Relations Coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin
- Gov. Walker signs state budget bill into law, issues vetoes – June 30, 2011
- Legislature sends state budget bill to Gov. Walker – June 17, 2011
- Joint Finance restores Judicial Council staff attorney, CCAP funding mechanism – June 7, 2011
- Joint Finance adopts Walker proposal to eliminate funding for indigent civil legal needs – May 24, 2011
- Joint Finance Committee to discuss civil legal needs funding and District Attorney budget on Thursday – May 11, 2011
- Budget committee approves funds for new SPD positions, private bar – April 27, 2011
- Joint Finance recommends elimination of Judicial Council staff attorney – April 27, 2011
- State Bar responds to Governor Walker’s proposed state budget – March 9, 2011
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