Indiana Rules of Court
Including Amendments Received Through January 1, 2022
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(A) Scope. These rules shall apply to all small claims proceedings in all courts of the State of Indiana, including Marion County Small Claims Courts, having jurisdiction over small claims as defined by relevant Indiana statutes.
(1) An action under these rules shall be commenced by the filing of an unverified notice of claim in a court of competent jurisdiction and by payment of the prescribed filing fee or filing an order waiving the filing fee.
(2) A plaintiff filing an action under these rules waives the excess of the plaintiff’s claim over the jurisdictional maximum of the small claims court or docket in which the case is decided, and the plaintiff may not later bring a separate action for the remainder of such claim.
(2) The name, mailing address, email address, or filing a petition for an order granting an exemption as to the e-mail address, and telephone number of the plaintiff and the name, mailing address, and if available, telephone number of the defendant(s);
(3) The place, date, and time when the parties are to appear on the claim, which date shall be set by the court with the objective of dispensing speedy justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive law;
(a) if the claim arises out of written contract, a copy shall be attached; however, the fact that a copy of such contract is not in the custody of the plaintiff shall not bar the filing of the claim; or
(c) in addition to the requirements set forth above in subsection 4(a) and (b), if the plaintiff is not the original creditor, and the claim arises from a debt that is primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, the plaintiff shall provide an Affidavit of Debt that shall have attached as one or more Exhibits which shall include:
i.) a copy of the contract or other writing evidencing the original debt, which shall contain a signature of the defendant. If a claim is based on credit card or other debt and no such signed writing evidencing the original debt ever existed, then copies of documents generated when the debt was incurred or the credit card was actually used shall be attached; and
ii.) a chronological listing of the names of all prior owners of the debt and the date of each transfer of ownership of the debt, beginning with the name of the original creditor; and
iii.) a certified or other properly authenticated copy of the bill of sale or other document that transferred ownership of the debt to the plaintiff.
(5) A statement that S.C. 8(C) governs who may represent the parties; and a statement that before an employee who is designated pursuant to that rule to represent a corporate entity, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or a trustee who is designated to represent a Trust may act on behalf of a party in a small claims case, the designated employee or trustee must file in each case the certificate of compliance and affidavit required by S.C. 8(C);
(8) The name, street address and telephone number of the person designated by the court with whom the defendant may communicate if defendant is unable to appear at the time or place designated in the notice;
(10) Notice of the defendant's right to a jury trial and that such right is waived unless a jury trial is requested within ten (10) days after receipt of the notice of claim; that once a jury trial request has been granted, it may not be withdrawn without the consent of the other party or parties; and within ten (10) days after the jury trial request has been granted, the party requesting a jury trial shall pay the clerk the additional amount required by statute to transfer the claim to the plenary docket or, in the Marion Small Claims Court, the filing fee necessary to file a case in the appropriate court of the county; otherwise, the party requesting a jury trial shall be deemed to have waived the request;
(11) A statement that a court may sanction a designated employee or trustee and the entity the employee or trustee represents for failure to comply with these rules or local rules of court. Sanctions may include assessment of costs or reasonable attorney’s fees, the entry of a default judgment, the dismissal of a claim with or without prejudice, fines, and/or incarceration; and
(C) Assistance by Clerk. The clerk of the court shall prepare and furnish blank notice of claim forms and the clerk of the court, or other employee of the court as the judge may designate, shall, upon request, assist individual claimants in the preparation thereof, but all attachments to the notice of claim shall be furnished by the claimant.
(D) Number of Claims and Attachments. All claims and attachments thereto shall be filed in such quantity that one copy may remain on file with the clerk, one copy may be delivered to the claimant, and one copy may be served on each defendant.
(E) Documents and Information Excluded from Public Access and Confidential Pursuant to the Rules on Access to Court Records. Documents and information excluded from public access pursuant to the Rules on Access to Court Records shall be filed in accordance with Trial Rule 5(G).
(A) General Provision. For the purpose of service the notice of claim shall also be considered to be the summons. A copy of the notice of claim shall be served upon each defendant. Service may be made by sending a copy by certified mail with return receipt requested, or by delivering a copy to the defendant personally, or by leaving a copy at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode, or in any other manner provided in Trial Rules 4.1 through 4.16. Whenever service is made by leaving a copy at defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode, the person making the service also shall send by first class mail a copy of the notice of claim to the last known address of the person being served.
(B) Designation of Constable in the Marion County Small Claims Court. Pursuant to Trial Rule 4.12, the Marion County Small Claims Court judge may appoint the elected township constable and deputies as the persons specifically designated by the court to effect service in person. An order with the names of the respective constable and deputies shall be entered in the Record of Judgments and Orders of the particular division of the Small Claims Court.
(C) Designation of Manner of Service in the Marion County Small Claims Court. A person seeking service of a notice of claim filed in the Marion County Small Claims Court, or his or her attorney, may designate upon the notice of claim the manner of service as either in person by the constable or by certified mail or other public means by which a written acknowledgment of receipt may be requested and obtained, as provided in Trial Rule 4.1. The judge of a Marion County Small Claims Court may designate by order an employee as bailiff for the purpose of effecting service of process by certified mail and collecting appropriate fees. If the manner of service is not designated by the person seeking service, the clerk of the court shall note such absence on the notice of claim and shall promptly deliver the notice of claim to the employee appointed by the court as bailiff or to the constable for service by certified mail. The cost for service is set by legislation, and there shall be no additional charge for first class mail delivery required pursuant to T.R. 4.1(B).
(D) Return of Service. The person making service shall comply promptly with the provisions of Trial Rule 4.15. In addition, he or she shall state on the return of service if service was made by delivering a copy to a person, naming such person, or by leaving a copy at the defendant's dwelling or abode, describing the dwelling or abode and noting any unique features, and shall verify that a copy of the notice of claim was sent by first class mail and indicate the address to which the notice was sent. The clerk of court shall note the return of service on the Chronological Case Summary applicable to the case.
(A) Preservation of Defenses. All defenses shall be deemed at issue without responsive pleadings, but this provision shall not alter the burden of proof.
(B) Entry of Appearance. For the purpose of administrative convenience the court may request that the defendant enter an appearance prior to trial. Such appearance may be made in person, by telephone or by mail but the fact that no appearance is entered by the defendant shall not be grounds for default judgment. Whether or not an appearance is required, a party that wishes to be represented by a designated employee or trustee must file a certificate of compliance and affidavit required by S.C. 8(C)(5).
(C) Request for Jury Trial. Notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, a defendant may request a jury trial by submitting a written request to the court within ten (10) days after receipt of the notice of claim. No statement of facts supporting the request or verification of the request is required. The party requesting a jury trial shall pay the clerk the additional amount required by statute to transfer the claim to the plenary docket or, in the Marion Small Claims Court, the filing fee necessary to file a case in the appropriate court of the county. Unless filed within ten (10) days after receipt of the notice of claim the right to a jury trial is waived. Once a jury trial request has been granted, it may not be withdrawn without the consent of the other party or parties.
(A) Time and Manner of Filing. If the defendant has any claim against the plaintiff, the defendant may bring or mail a statement of such claim to the small claims court within such time as will allow the court to mail a copy to the plaintiff and be received by the plaintiff at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the trial. If such counterclaim is not received within this time the plaintiff may request a continuance pursuant to S.C. 9. The counterclaim must conform with the requirements of S.C. 2(B)(4).
(B) Counterclaim in Excess of Jurisdiction. Any defendant pursuing a counterclaim to decision waives the excess of the defendant's claim over the jurisdictional maximum of the small claims docket and may not later bring a separate action for the remainder of such claim.
Discovery may be had in a manner generally pursuant to the rules governing any other civil action, but only upon the approval of the court and under such limitations as may be specified. The court should grant discovery only upon notice and good cause shown and should limit such action to the necessities of the case.
All settlements shall be in writing and signed by the plaintiff and defendant. The settlement shall be filed with the clerk and upon approval of the court it shall be entered in the small claims judgment docket and shall have the same effect as a judgment of the court.
(A) Procedure. The trial shall be informal, with the sole objective of dispensing speedy justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive law, and shall not be bound by the statutory provisions or rules of practice, procedure, pleadings or evidence except provisions relating to privileged communications and offers of compromise.
(B) Witnesses. All testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation. Witnesses may be called and the court shall have the power to issue subpoenas to compel their attendance. There shall be no additional fee charged for the issuance of subpoenas.
(C) Party Representation. Any assigned or purchased claim, or any debt acquired from the real party in interest by a third party cannot be presented or defended by said third party unless this third party is represented by counsel. In all other cases, the following rules shall apply:
(2) Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships. A sole proprietorship or partnership may be represented by the sole proprietor or partner, owner, counsel, or by a designated full-time employee of the business in the presentation or defense of claims arising out of the business, if the claim does not exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000.00). However, claims exceeding six thousand dollars ($6,000.00) must either be defended or presented by counsel or pro se by the sole proprietor, partner, or owner.
(3) Corporate Entities, Limited Liability Companies (LLC's), Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP's), Trusts. All corporate entities, Limited Liability Companies (LLC's), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP's), and Trusts may be represented by counsel, owner, or by a designated full-time employee of the corporate entity, or, in the case of a trust by a trustee, in the presentation or defense of claims arising out of the business if the claim does not exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000.00). However, claims exceeding six thousand dollars ($6,000.00) must be defended or presented by counsel.
(a) If a corporate entity, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or trust designates a full-time employee or trustee to represent it, the corporate entity, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or trust will be bound by any and all agreements and acts relating to the small claims proceedings entered into by the designated employee or trustee and will be liable for any and all costs, including those assessed by reason of contempt, levied by a court against the designated employee or trustee.
(b) By authorizing a designated full-time employee or trustee to appear under this Rule, the corporate entity, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or trust waives any present or future claim in this or any other forum in excess of six thousand dollars ($6,000.00).
(c) No person who is disbarred or suspended from the practice of law in Indiana or any other jurisdiction may appear as counsel for a corporate entity or on behalf of a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or trust under this rule, but may appear as a designated full-time employee of a corporate entity, LLC, or LLP, if employed in a non-legal capacity, or as sole proprietor, partner, trustee, or owner.
(5) Full-Time Employee or Trustee Designations--Contents. A corporate entity, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or trust that wishes to designate an employee or trustee to represent it must execute a certificate of compliance in each case expressly appointing the person as its representative and must state by a duly adopted resolution in the case of a corporate entity, LLC or LLP; or a document signed under oath by the sole proprietor or managing partner of a partnership, or trustee that the entity shall be bound by the designated employee's or trustee’s acts and agreements relating to the small claims proceeding, and shall be liable for assessments and costs levied by a court relating to the small claims proceeding, and that the corporate entity, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, LLP, or trust waives any claim for damages in excess of six thousand dollars ($6,000.00) associated with the facts and circumstances alleged in the notice of claim. Additionally, the designated employee or trustee must file in each case an affidavit stating that he/she is not disbarred or suspended from the practice of law in Indiana or any other jurisdiction.
(6) Any party represented by a designated employee or trustee who fails to comply with these rules or local rules of court may be ordered by the court to appear by counsel and subject to sanctions, including the assessment of costs or reasonable attorney’s fees, the entry of a default judgment, and the dismissal of a claim with or without prejudice. Anyone who engages in conduct that is uncivil or disruptive to the proceeding may be found in contempt of court, which is punishable by a fine, incarceration, or both.
(A) Either party may be granted a continuance for good cause shown. Except in unusual circumstances no party shall be allowed more than one (1) continuance in any case, and all continuances must have the specific approval of the court. Continuances shall be for as short a period as possible, and where feasible the party not requesting the continuance shall be considered in scheduling a new hearing date. The court shall give notice of the continuance and the new date and time of trial to all parties.
(B) Court Designated Employee. The court may, by a duly executed order recorded in the Record of Judgments and Orders, designate a specifically named employee to be responsible for scheduling hearings under specific directions of the court in said order.
(A) Dismissal. If the plaintiff fails to appear at the time and place specified in the notice of claim, or for any continuance thereof, the court may dismiss the action without prejudice. If a counterclaim has been filed the court may grant judgment for the defendant after first making an inquiry similar to that required by S.C. 10(B) in the case of default judgments. If the claim is refiled and the plaintiff again fails to appear such claim may be dismissed with prejudice.
(B) Default. If the defendant fails to appear at the time and place specified in the notice of claim, or for any continuance thereof, the court may enter a default judgment against him. Before default judgment is entered, the court shall examine the notice of claim and return thereof and make inquiry, under oath, of those present so as to assure the court that:
(1) Service of notice of claim was had under such circumstances as to establish a reasonable probability that the defendant received such notice;
(2) Within the knowledge of those present, the defendant is not under legal disability and has sufficient understanding to realize the nature and effect of the notice of claim;
(3) Either (a) the defendant is not entitled to the protections against default judgments provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, as amended (the “Act”), 50 U.S.C. appx. § 521, or (b) the plaintiff has filed with the court, subscribed and certified or declared to be true under penalty of perjury, the affidavit required by the Act (i) stating whether or not the defendant is in military service and showing necessary facts to support the affidavit; or (ii) if the plaintiff is unable to determine whether or not the defendant is in military service, stating that the plaintiff is unable to determine whether or not the defendant is in military service; and
(4) The plaintiff has a prima facie case.
After such assurance, the court may render default judgment and, upon entering such judgment, shall assess court costs against the defendant.
(C) Setting Aside Default. Upon good cause shown the court may, within one year after entering a default judgment, vacate such judgment and reschedule the hearing of the original claim. Following the expiration of one year, the judgment debtor may seek a reversal of the original judgment only upon the filing of an independent action, as provided in Ind.R.Tr.P. 60(B).
(A) Entry and Notice of Judgment. All judgments shall be reduced to writing signed by the court, dated, entered in the Record of Judgments and Orders, and noted in the small claims judgment docket and the Chronological Case Summary. The Marion County Small Claims Court shall forward its judgments to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Marion County for entry on the Marion County judgment docket. Judgment shall be subject to review as prescribed by relevant Indiana rules and statutes. Notwithstanding the provisions of T.R. 5(A), the court shall send notice of all small claims judgments and all judgments of the Marion County Small Claims Court, whether by default or not, to the attorneys of record, or if a party is appearing pro se, to the party of record.
(B) Costs. The party recovering judgment shall also recover costs regardless of the amount.
(C) Method of Payment. Modification. The court may order a judgment paid the prevailing party in any specified manner. If the judgment is not paid as ordered the court may modify its payment order as it deems necessary.
The judgment creditor may seek enforcement of his judgment by any other method provided by law.
(D) Satisfaction/Release of Judgment. Upon payment in full of a judgment, including accrued interest and court costs, the judgment creditor shall file a satisfaction/release of judgment and the Clerk shall note the satisfaction/release of the judgment on the Chronological Case Summary and on the Judgment Docket.
Based upon a review of the Clerk's payment records, the Clerk may, or at the verified request of the judgment debtor, shall issue a Notice to the judgment creditor that a judgment, including accrued interest and court costs, has been paid in full and that the judgment should be satisfied/released. The Notice shall be sent to the judgment creditor and debtor at the address shown on the Chronological Case Summary. The Clerk shall note the issuance of the Notice on the Chronological Case Summary. If the judgment creditor does not agree that the judgment should be satisfied/released, the judgment creditor shall, within 30 days of the date of the issuance of the Notice, file a verified objection. If the judgment creditor does not file an objection or a satisfaction/release of judgment, the judgment shall be deemed satisfied/released and the Clerk shall note the satisfaction/release of the judgment on the Chronological Case Summary and on the Judgment Docket.
(E) Deleted, eff. Jan. 1, 1990.
(F) Effect of Judgment. A judgment shall be res judicata only as to the amount involved in the particular action and shall not be considered an adjudication of any fact at issue in any other action or court.
(A) Proper Venue.
(1) Proper venue for a case filed in the small claims docket of a Circuit or Superior Court shall be in the county where the transaction or occurrence took place, where the obligation was incurred or is to be performed, or where a defendant resides or is employed at the time the complaint is filed.
(2) Except as provided in (3) below, proper venue for a case filed in a small claims court created pursuant to IC 33-34-1-2 shall be in the township where the transaction or occurrence took place, where the obligation was incurred or is to be performed, or where a defendant resides or is employed at the time the complaint is filed.
(3) Proper venue of any claim between landlord and tenant, including but not limited to a claim for rent, possession of real estate, return of property, return of security deposit or for damages, filed in a small claims court created pursuant to IC 33-34-1-2 shall be in the township where the real estate is located, unless there is no small claims court in that township.
(B) Motion to Correct Venue. When it appears that the county or township, in the case of small claims courts created pursuant to IC 33-34-1-2 in which the action is pending is not the proper place for the hearing of such action, the court shall, on the motion of a party or upon its own motion, determine the correctness of the venue. If the venue is incorrect the judge shall, at the option of the plaintiff, order the action to be transferred or dismissed without prejudice unless the defendant appears and waives the venue requirement.
(C) No Waiver of Venue. No contract or agreement shall operate as a waiver of the provisions of this rule and the court shall treat any such attempt as being void.
In any court exercising small claims jurisdiction, a party shall have ten  days from the date of service of the notice of claim to file a change of judge. When a change occurs a new judge shall be selected as provided in Trial Rules 79 or 79.1.
An informative small claims manual shall be formulated by the Judicial Conference of Indiana for distribution to the small claims courts. Each county shall reproduce such manual and shall make it available to every litigant and to such other persons or organizations as the court may deem appropriate.
In any circuit court exercising small claims jurisdiction, the circuit judge may appoint a referee to assist the court in performing the “county court functions.” Such referee shall be an attorney admitted to practice in Indiana and shall serve at the pleasure of the circuit judge. The referee shall have such authority as the circuit judge shall assign by order. The referee shall be a finder of fact--the decision rendered will be that of the circuit judge.
Such referee shall be paid reasonable compensation, including a mileage allowance to be determined by the appointing circuit court judge. In recommending to the Supreme Court of Indiana appropriate compensation, the appointing circuit court judge shall consider the estimated caseload, the amount of work time needed to fulfill the assigned duties, and any other relevant factors relating to the referee's duties. Compensation shall be reasonably commensurate with the workload assigned. The amount authorized by the Supreme Court to be paid shall be paid by the state.
Under the direction of the Supreme Court of Indiana, the Clerk of the Circuit Court may, notwithstanding the recordkeeping practices set forth for small claims proceedings, keep records in any suitable media. The recordkeeping formats and systems and the quality and permanency requirements employed for the Chronological Case Summary, the Case File, and the Record of Judgments and Orders (Order Book) shall be approved by the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration (IOJA) for compliance with applicable requirements.
(A) Time for Requesting. An order of possession of real estate shall not be issued if more than thirty (30) days have passed since the judgment was issued. Thereafter, a plaintiff seeking possession may do so by filing a new case.
(B) Duration. An order of possession of real estate shall be effective for no more than thirty (30) consecutive days after its date of issue. The court shall indicate the specific date of expiration on the face of each order of possession.