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What are Vermont Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?

In Vermont, small claim cases are matters involving a disagreement over a small amount of money. Whenever such civil issues arise, the plaintiff can file for small claims up to the tune of $5,000. The small claims hearing takes place in the superior court.

Class action lawsuits in Vermont are disputes involving a group of people who have suffered damages from a product or wrongful action. This lawsuit can as well be called mass tort litigation. Filing a class-action lawsuit is considerably cheaper. Petitioners for small claims and class actions must be 18 years or older.

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 a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • 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 Vermont?

The superior court in Vermont settles different kinds of small claims. Some of these cases are contract breach disputes, personal injury claims, claims over personal property, breach of warranty, libel or slander, and product liability.

  • Contract Breach Disputes: When a party in a contract does not comply with the terms of the deal, the non-breaching individual can decide to sue the defaulter.
  • Personal Injury Claims: These ensue when a party injures another, and the injured party seeks compensation.
  • Claims Over Personal Property: When there is intentional or careless destruction of a property, the owner can file a small claims suit.
  • Breach of Warranty: This type of case involves sellers who do not fulfill the terms of promise regarding the quality of a product.
  • Libel or Slander: This involves making derogatory remarks or defamatory words that lead to personal injuries.
  • Product Liability: For this type of case, manufacturers and product distributors or suppliers are held liable for selling defective products to customers.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Vermont?

A class action lawsuit is a legal case between the defendant and the plaintiff, consisting of several individuals who have been victims of the same wrongdoing or defective product. Examples include a group of employees subjected to racism, a group of women who have been victims of sexual harassment, and investors who sustained losses due to securities fraud. According to the Vermont Rules of Procedure 23, a class member of more may be sued or sue in a superior court as representative parties on behalf of all, only if the class is overwhelmingly much. An example is a case where 50 employees are affected by an employer’s incompetence and decide to find lawsuits individually. If the court hears every single similar case, it will take many years to conclude. But if the affected employees merge as a single entity to sue the employer, ample time would be saved, making the process simpler and much more efficient. Moreover, it saves every employee the stress and cost of expenses attached to filing a lawsuit. Class action lawsuits work on the principle of strength in numbers.

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

The superior court in Vermont hears small claims cases. Interested persons can choose to self-represent or hire a lawyer. The lowest amount is between $25 to $50, and the highest limit is $5000 in any superior court in Vermont. According to Vermont statute Title 12, individuals can not request relief or money damages over $5000 in a small claim proceeding. Only Vermont residents above the legal age of 18 can file a small claims case at the clerk’s office. Some counties such as Addison, Rutland, Orange allow for e-filing. For most counties, an appropriate Small Claims Complaint form must be completed and filed along with the appropriate fee. As the plaintiff, information necessary for filing are;

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Defendant’s name, place of residence, place of business, or employment
  • The nature and amount of the plaintiff’s claim and other key information

In some cases, indigenes of Vermont can receive a waiver for filing. An Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs form should be completed and submitted to the small claims court clerk of the relevant county. After completing these processes, the plaintiff can serve the defendant a summons signed by the court clerk.

Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?

Filing small claims cases is possible by self-representation or with the aid of an attorney. In Vermont, it is unnecessary to have a lawyer involved in a small claims case but to increase chances of winning the case significantly, lawyers are vital. The downside is the high cost of hiring for legal help.

How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Vermont?

The first step in processing a class action lawsuit is to contact an attorney through a law firm about a potential class action. A meticulous evaluation process follows to ascertain such class action is viable. If the class action lawsuit is possible, the lawyer proceeds to draft a complaint that comprises the case details and compensatory damages. The lawyer will give a class certification for the proposed class action. The presiding judge authorizes this class certification. After this, the attorney collects evidence from the class members to build a formidable defense during the hearing. Legal service fees and court costs are paid after winning the class action lawsuit. Class action lawsuits do not have a rigid completion period. Most cases take six months to a year, and in other cases, it may take several years.

Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?

Class action lawsuits have advantages and disadvantages. One major benefit of a class-action case is that it is affordable. The issue with suing, in general, is if the damages are not substantial, then the lengthy and costly process may even surpass the compensatory damages. The downside of class action lawsuits is that if the defendant triumphs in the hearing, all class members are restricted by law to file another lawsuit individually. People often opt out of class-action lawsuits if such people feel the personal damages are larger than other class members. For single party suits, if the case is not complicated, the legal action is solved faster than a class action.

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