Small Claims and Civil Actions

About Small Claims and Civil Actions

Small Claims actions have a monetary limit of $10,000.00 and are conducted more informally, generally, without attorneys present. Civil Actions have a monetary limit of $15,000.00. Complaints in a Civil Action are generally prepared by attorneys, as complaint forms are not available for Civil Actions. A Summons must accompany the Complaint.

Small Claims

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Small Claims - How to File

The party you sue through our Court must reside, be employed, or do business in the Reno Township, which includes the following areas: The city of Reno, Stead, Bordertown, Cold Springs, Steamboat Springs, Lemmon Valley, Verdi and Washoe Valley. The maximum amount that you may file for is $10,000.00. Your court date will be approximately two (2) months after you file.

Small Claims Filing Fees

Under $1,000.00 $66.00*
From $1,000.01 to $2,500.00 $86.00*
From $2,500.01 to $5,000.00 $106.00*
From $5,000.01 to $7,500.00 $146.00*
From $7,500.01 to $10,000.00 $196.00*
Counterclaims $71.00*

To sue a business or a corporation in Small Claims Court, the proper party to represent it must be named on the claim. If it is a business, the Reno City License Bureau (775) 334-2090 or the Washoe County License Division (775) 328-3733 can provide the business name on the license and the person listed as the licensee. If you are suing a corporation, the Secretary of State (775) 684-5708, (NV SOS Business Entity Search), can provide the exact name of the corporation and who is listed as the Resident Agent along with the Resident Agent’s address. In either case, it is important to list the business or corporation exactly as it reads with the appropriate agency. If the party you wish to sue is an agency governed under the United States Federal Government, you will need to contact the U.S. Federal Court for the procedure on filing.

On Small Claim Affidavit and Orders, if it is an individual filing for a business, the business name and address goes on the top of the form. The name of the person, along with their title giving them authorization to file, goes on the bottom part of the affidavit as the “Affiant”. If you are filing your claim in person at the Civil Counter, the clerks will prepare your Affidavit and Order for you. If you have three (3) or more small claims, we ask that you prepare your own.

Please type or print the information on the “Affidavit and Order”, sign it before a notary and return it to the Court along with your filing fee check, service check and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. By return mail the Court will inform you of your court date and case number and enclosed will be your receipts for the above fees. This Affidavit and Order MUST be signed before a notary or before a clerk at Reno Justice Court. (The single page worksheet form MUST be included with the claim, but does not have to be typed.)

Small Claims Complaints MUST be served by a licensed process server. There will be fees payable to the server. To avoid an unnecessary trip to Court, please contact the process server who served your papers prior to the court date to be sure the Defendant has been served. The party who serves the Affidavit and Order must type or neatly print below their signature their name and title which authorizes them to make service. The burden to make sure this is done is on the Plaintiff. If it is not properly done the judge may not honor the service of the Affidavit and Order.

Small Claims - How to Answer

After you have been served with a Small Claim you can appear in court on the scheduled day and time without filing any response or you can answer the accusations made against you by filing an "answer".

If you decide to file an "Answer" you can come to the Court and request an "Answer" form for a Small Claim. There is no filing fee to file an "Answer" but there is a service fee because the "Answer" must be served on the plaintiff.

If you wish to file a claim against the plaintiff (counter-claim) or a claim against a third party (cross-claim) in the case in which you are named as a defendant you must follow the same procedure that a plaintiff must follow for filing a claim.

Small Claims - Mandatory Mediation: How it Works

Mediation is mandatory for small claims cases filed in the Reno Justice Court. In mediation, you and the other party meet with a neutral third person, the mediator, who helps parties work to arrive at their own solution. The goal is to give you and the other party the opportunity to craft your own agreement before the case is heard by a judge. If mediation works, you save the time it takes to go through a trial. Mediation is free of charge.

When you file a small claims case, the clerk of the court will assign you a date and time to appear at the Reno Justice Court for mediation. Your total time at the court may last 3 hours, so you need to set aside that amount of time on your appointed day.

Mediators are trained to help people talk about their disputes and help them come up with reasonable and satisfactory solutions. Mediators are neutral so they do not take sides or suggest solutions, and unlike judges, have no power to rule in favor of one party over the other. Mediators work to help parties communicate as completely as possible so they can make informed decisions.

If you're convinced that the other party is totally unreasonable, you may wonder why you should waste time mediating. Experience shows that when the parties to a small claims court case agree to mediate in good faith, the overwhelming majority of disputes are settled to the satisfaction of all parties.

If parties form an agreement, that agreement is filed with the court and signed by the judge making it a binding order. Once the mediated agreement is honored, the plaintiff must file a dismissal with the court, resulting in no judgment on the defendant’s record.

If the mediated agreement is not honored, the plaintiff has the right to file for a judgment for the amount filed in the original case plus court costs without serving the defendant again and without paying additional court filing fees. If no agreement is reached in mediation, the clerk will give you a trial date.

Additional Information on Small Claims Mandatory Mediation Program

Mandatory Small Claims Mediation Administrative Order and Program Rules

Civil Action

Civil Action - How to File

The jurisdictional limit for Civil Action in Reno Justice Court is $15,000.00.

Complaints in Civil Action are generally prepared by attorneys as complaint forms are not available for Civil actions. A Summons must accompany the Complaint.

The fee charged at the time of filing an action is based upon the amount asked for in the Complaint for the principal sum (s) only.

Representation by an attorney is not mandatory; however, such representation is advised because this is a more formal court setting and you will be required to follow the Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure as well as prepare all of your own documents. Attorney`s fees must be awarded to the prevailing party in Civil Actions. This is not true of Small Claims cases.

After filing the Complaint, it is your responsibility to have each defendant properly served. It is also your responsibility to provide Reno Justice Court with a Proof of Service after service is perfected upon the defendant.

After the defendant has been served, it is up to you and/or your attorney to know how to proceed. The clerks at Reno Justice Court cannot give you that advice.

Civil Action - How to Answer

After you have been served with a Summons and Complaint, you must respond (in writing) to the allegations made in the Complaint. The length of time to respond is specified in the Summons. Normally the time to respond is 20 days (including weekends and holidays but not the date of service). If an Order Shortening Time is also included you must respond within the time specified in the Order.

Reno Justice Court has forms which may be used to file your Answer/Response to your Summons if you don't have an attorney at the beginning of the proceeding. Unless you are a corporation, you are not required to obtain an attorney for Civil actions. This is a more formal Court setting and you will be required to follow the Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure until the case is concluded (by trial if necessary).

When you file your first response (regardless of what kind of response it is), you must pay the filing fee specified on the Summons. If you are responding simply to ask the Court to set up a payment schedule you need to contact the plaintiff directly before filing your response since the Court does not make payment arrangements for the parties.

You must provide the attorney for the opposing party with a file-stamped copy of your response. You can accomplish this by mail or personal service. You must then file a Certificate of Mailing or Affidavit of Service with the Court informing the Court exactly how service of the response was accomplished.

The next step in a Civil Action is to set a trial date. You may receive a Notice to Set the Trial, which will allow you to be included in choosing the date and time of trial. You may receive a Notice of Hearing which informs you of the actual date and time of trial. If you receive any document other than those listed above, you need to contact your attorney or Reno Justice Court immediately for further instruction.

Important - If you do not appear for your trial, the plaintiff may obtain a judgment by default against you.

Appeals for Civil Actions and Small Claims

Any party dissatisfied with the Court’s decision may appeal it. If it is a Small Claims action the appeal must be filed within five judicial days after the decision date (excluding court date, weekends and holidays). If it is a Justice Court civil action, the appeal must be filed no later than twenty straight days after service of Notice of Entry of Judgment. If it is on decision for a formal eviction taken through Justice Court, such as an Unlawful Detainer, the appeal must be filed within ten judicial days following the decision. Justice Court Rule 72B, 98, N.R.S. 40.380.

The appealing party must file a formal Notice of Appeal with Reno Justice Court. If the party wishing to appeal a decision is not familiar with the preparation of that pleading, there are forms available at the court. Civil clerks can not give any assistance in the preparation of this pleading.

At the time the appeal is filed with the court, the appellant is also responsible to pay fees as outlined on the fee schedule. All fees are made payable to the Reno Justice Court.

Proceedings will not be stayed even after an appeal has been filed unless a supersedeas bond has been posted. Usually, this bond will be for the amount of judgment, any costs, plus interest as applicable for one year for Small Claims or Justice Court civil action. If the case being appealed is for a formal eviction and it is being appealed by the tenant, the supersedeas bond will be set by the deciding judge.

Important - All fees must be paid for in cash or with a check on an attorney's trust account only.

A transcription of the proceedings is required for the appeal process. A copy of the digital recording is available for purchase for $35.00 per copy upon written request. Transcription of the digital recording is your responsibility.