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Utah Court Records

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What are Utah Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?

Utah residents can file small claims lawsuits against other individuals or business entities who owe them debts within the range of $11,000 and below. The rules of small claims procedure provided by the Utah Judiciary give citizens a complete detail of filing a small claim case. Generally, these cases are taken to any of the justice courts located in each county of the state. Class action cases in Utah are joint legal in which a group of plaintiffs sues one or more defendants with similar allegations. Before a class action suit can begin, the court is required to verify if the case meets the basic prerequisites necessary for a class action in Utah.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Utah?

According to Utah Rule of Civil Procedure (URCP) Rule 23, one or more persons may file a class action on behalf of other class members with similar complaints, injury, or allegations. Utah’s class action cases start when a class of mistreated persons files a joint lawsuit with similar allegations. Class actions will only be certified to proceed in court if:

  • the number of participants is so many that it will become impractical to join them.
  • there are facts, evidence, and questions of law that similar to the class
  • the allegations are similar
  • the class members will be represented fairly

Note that only people residing at the time of the offense will be part of the claimants in Utah’s class action. However, if the supposed crime happened within the state, non-citizens may be considered.

How do I File a Claim in a Utah Small Claims Court?

First and foremost, individuals filing a small claim case must be above 18 years of age; otherwise, they will be represented by a guardian or parent. Also, all claims must not exceed $11,000. Small claims cases are initiated when the plaintiff files an affidavit and summons form with the justice court clerk. The affidavit should reveal facts and evidence of debt owed by the defendant. On submission of the affidavit, the plaintiff is required to pay the appropriate filing fee or file an affidavit of impecuniosity to waive the filing payment. The court clerk will set up a trial date after a successful filing. Afterward, the defendant will be served the affidavit at least 30 days before the trial, as stated under rule 3 of the Utah Rules of Small Claims Procedure (URSCP). Before trial, both parties may be advised to participate in mediation programs like online dispute resolution (ODR) or contact an authorized mediator. If there will be a settlement before trial due to the mediation program, the plaintiff may need to file a settlement agreement. The court clerk may allow one request for the postponement of the trial from both sides. During the trial, both sides are expected to bring documents related to the case and also witnesses to testify. Note that small claims cases may be dismissed if the plaintiff or defendant refuses to show up at the trial. Also, court judgment may be appealed within 28 days from the date the judgment was passed.

Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?

Hiring a small claims lawyer may be necessary, depending on the nature of the case. According to rule 13 of URSCP, plaintiffs may be represented by a lawyer practicing in Utah, an employee approved by the court, any resident willing to represent them without compensation, or themselves. Generally, an experienced business attorney can provide advice on how to proceed with a small claims case. Lawyers also counsel their clients and represent them in court as stated under the state law. In Utah, however, it is straightforward to file a case without a lawyer. Usually, for filing, the court clerk offers the necessary documentation and information. It is also possible to go to trial without an attorney. However, if the claim were against a major company, it may be easier to hire a lawyer.

How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Utah?

Typically, a class action is brought by a person or class of mistreated plaintiffs. For a case to qualify as a class-action, the number of class members has to be numerous to the point whereby it is not practical to have individual cases. It is also important for legal counsel to file the lawsuit on behalf of the class representative. If the judge validates the case as a class-action, each member of the class will be notified. Plaintiffs may choose to join in the class-action or file a separate case. The judge shall determine the purpose of the claim and whether it fits the requirements laid down in Rule 23 of the URCP. This will be used to decide whether to approve a case as a class-action.

Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?

Class-action lawsuits and single party cases have both advantages and disadvantages. Class-actions are preferred because it saves court expenses as all class members will be represented by one counsel. Also, class members have a better chance of getting a favorable judgment. However, the total amount paid to each individual may not be significant due to the number of people involved in the suit. Another disadvantage is that each plaintiff involved in the class-action may not pursue individual lawsuits for the same crime.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:n

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Cases are Heard by Small Claims Courts in Utah?

According to the Utah Code Section 78A–8–102, small claims cases may be served by plaintiffs in the justice court within the county if:

  • the financial claim does not exceed $11,000
  • it is debt owed by the defendant or business entity
  • the claims are not used in suing a government
  • the claim does not involve possession of properties
  • the claim does not include the eviction of tenants
  • the claim involves property damage, the cost to repair a car that was damaged from a motor vehicle accident or bodily injuries
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