Hennepin County Conciliation Court

Conciliation Court, also known as "small claims court," handles civil cases involving money claims of $15,000 or less.
Quick Links:

  • Effective August 1, 2014, the dollar limits in Conciliation Court are: $15,000 for general claims; $4,000 for consumer credit cases; and $15,000 for forfeitures. Read the changes to the law in MN Statutes s. 491A.01 subd. 3.
  • October 22, 2012, eFile & eServe is available in Conciliation Court for use by legal professionals.
View the Court Calendar to see hearings times and locations.
 
Special Term Motion Calendar for Conciliation Court
9:00 a.m. on select Thursdays
 
  • March 19, 2015
  • June 18, 2015
  • July 9, 2015
  • July 23, 2015
  • August 6, 2015
  • August 20, 2015
  • September 10, 2015 - NO COURT
  • September 24, 2015
  • October 8, 2015
  • October 22, 2015
  • November 5, 2015
  • November 19, 2015
  • December 10, 2015
  • December 24, 2015

To search for Conciliation Court case information online, use MPA Remote linked below, and then choose Civil, Family and Probate Cases.

 

 Search court records online with MPA Remote »


MPA (Minnesota Public Access) Remote offers access to case information over the internet for certain court records in the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS). The information is limited as described in the MN Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch. Information in MPA Remote is not the "official" court record. Court documentscannot be viewed in MPA Remote at this time. For criminal "background checks," please contact the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The management of court records is controlled by the Records Retention Schedule for the MN Judicial Branch and the law at MN Statutes § 138.17 on keeping and destroying public records.
 
Related Links
  • 4th District Records Center - Locations and services to get copies of court documents and to access court records for other case types in the Hennepin County District Court.

Types of claims allowed in Conciliation Court

Conciliation Court can hear claims up to $15,000. It can also order that personal property be returned. Exception: As of August 1, 2012, Conciliation Court can hear cases of seized property valued up to $15,000.

Claims Allowed:
  • Defective goods sold or service provided
  • Damage to property or vehicle
  • Back rent owed
  • Accident repair expenses not paid
  • NSF (non-sufficient funds) check tendered 
  • in Hennepin County
  • Worthless checks
  • Damage deposit not paid
  • Wages not paid
  • Return of property (Replevin)
  • Defendant lives in Hennepin County. There are a few expections that allow the incident to happen in Hennepin County.
Claims not Allowed:
  • Title to real estate
  • Class Actions
  • Medical malpractice
  • Libel or slander
  • Discrimination claims
  • Actions against deceased persons
  • Actions when another court is involved
  • Problem or incident did not happen in or defendant does not live in Hennepin County, with some exceptions
  • Even if you believe you have a claim for more than $15,000, you can only file a claim in Conciliation Court up to $15,000. You may not file more than one claim related to the same incident as a way to reach a higher amount.
You may want to think about whether the person you are suing (the defendant) will be able to pay you. Although you may win a case, the Conciliation Court is not a collection agency and does not contact the defendant to collect payment. Read What to Do if You Win a Judgment for more information.
 

Who may file a Conciliation Court claim

A person, company, agency or other type of organization can be a "party" (plaintiff or defendant) to a Conciliation Court case. A plaintiff is the party that sues, and a defendant is the party that is being sued.

The Statement of Claim (filed by a plaintiff to start a court action) and the Statement of Counterclaim (may be filed by a defendant), are written statements of fact signed by the party under oath. Generally, a party must personally know the facts of the case and be able to testify about the facts at a hearing.

Pursuant to a Standing Order for Conciliation Court, court staff must reject any claim that is filed on behalf of another individual using a Power of Attorney. The meaning of a "Durable" Power of Attorney is explained in this Legal Fact Sheet.

If you have questions, please call the Conciliation Court at (612) 348-2713.
 

Using mediation to settle a dispute

In mediation, you will meet with the other party and a mediator. The purpose of the meeting is to try to reach an agreement between you and the other party to settle the dispute. The mediator is not a judge and will not decide on the solution, but will help the parties reach an agreement. 

Hennepin County District Court encourages the use of mediation to settle your dispute. Read a brochure for more information about pre-filing mediation.

Learn more about how to settle a case out of court.

Benefits of Mediation
  • Parties have equal say in the solution
  • Low or no cost
  • Quick
  • Mediate days, evenings or weekends - no missed work
  • Sessions scheduled in your neighborhood
  • Less stress
  • Informal
Types of Disputes
  • Business
  • Contracts
  • Creditors and Debtors
  • Damage to property
  • Employer/employee
  • Landlord/Tenant
Mediation Programs in Hennepin County

Where to file a Conciliation Court case

All Hennepin County Conciliation Court claims must be filed (either in person or by mail) at:
Conciliation Court
Minneapolis City Hall, Room #306
350 South 5th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415

All Conciliation Court hearings will be held at that location.

As of June 2014, cases are being scheduled for hearing approximately 60 days from the date of filing. If you mail your filing, please add an additional two weeks for processing.

Mediation is an option if you wish to settle your dispute in less time. Please visit the Legal Help & Mediation tab on this page for more information.

Hennepin County Conciliation Court forms can be found on the District Court page.

If you need more information, please call the Conciliation Court at (612) 348-2713.
 

When to file in Hennepin County Court

Generally, you must file your claim in the county where the person you are suing (the defendant) lives. If the defendant lives in Hennepin County, then you file in that court.

Common exceptions include:
  • a claim for a bad check must be filed in county where the check was tendered;
  • security deposits and rent claims may be filed in the county where the rental property is located;
  • if there is more than one defendant;
  • corporations are sued in the county where the business is located (you may find out where a business is registsered by contacting the Minnesota Secretary of State at (651) 296-2803;
For other exceptions, read the laws on Conciliation Court jurisdiction in MN Statutes Chapter 491A.
 

How to file a Conciliation Court claim

Claim Form
If you file a claim in Hennepin County Conciliation Court, we prefer that you use the form specifically designed for Hennepin County. You can download the Hennepin County Conciliation Court Claim Form, or you may pick up the form in person at the Conciliation Court located in Room 306 in the Minneapolis City Hall or at the Self-Help Center located on the skyway level in the Hennepin County Government Center. NOTE: There is a statewide Conciliation Court Claim Form that can also be used.

Filling Out the Form
The claim form is a brief, fill-in-the-blank document. To complete it you must have the following information:
  • full name of the person being sued (defendant);
  • defendant's complete address (no P.O. boxes), with zip code;
  • dollar amount of claim ($15,000 or less);
  • date of the event, accident, or transaction;
  • brief description of the event, accident, or transaction;
Notarized Signature
After filling out the form, you must sign it in front of a notary or a court clerk.

Filing the Form
You must "file" your completed and notarized claim form with the court and pay a filing fee. Visit the fees tab on the District Court page to see the current amount of the filing fee. You may file in person or by mail. If you file by mail, send your completed claim form along with the correct filing fee (checks should be payable to Conciliation Court) to:
Conciliation Court
Minneapolis City Hall, Room #306
350 South 5th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Before filing a claim in Conciliation Court, we encourage you to use mediation to settle your dispute.
 

The Hearing

The hearing will be set approximately 60 days from when you file your claim. Hearings are usually scheduled every day at times ranging from: 8:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

It is important to appear on time.  A roll call will be taken promptly at the assigned time.

 

Legal Advice Clinic

When providing services, court staff must be neutral and fair to everyone. Court staff may provide the same type of help to any party in a case. Court staff are not allowed to give legal advice.

If you want advice in your case, you could talk with a lawyer at the Legal Advice Clinic or find a lawyer on your own.
 

More Resources

More information and resources on representing yourself in court are available at the Conciliation Court Help Topic.
 

What a Conciliation Court Summons means

Receiving a Summons means that you are being sued; you are the defendant in the case. You should prepare for a hearing. You may also file a Statement of Counterclaim form if you feel the plaintiff owes you money.

If you ignore the Summons and do not appear on the scheduled hearing date, a default judgment may be entered against you that orders you to pay the amount determined by the Referee. 
 

How to file a claim for property seized in a drug arrest

This section refers ONLY to a claim for property seized in a DRUG-related incident under MN Statute §  609.5314.
  • Effective August 1, 2010, claims for return of seized property may be filed in Conciliation Court if the property is valued at $15,000 or less. There is no filing fee for claims under $500.00. If the value is $500 or greater, regular filing fees must be paid.
  • The filing party must have their copy of Form No. 2857 "Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Property," which is issued by the arresting police agency, and a copy must be attached to the Conciliation Court claim.
  • The Conciliation Court Statement of Claim & Summons form must be filed with the court within 60 days following the service of Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Property.
  • The title on the claim form would be: (Plaintiff’s name) Plaintiff vs. Seized property (description) c/o Hennepin County Attorney – Defendant.
  • To file in Hennepin County Conciliation Court, the drug-related incident must have occurred in Hennepin County, and a copy of the claim form must be served on: Hennepin County Attorney's Office Forfeiture Unit
    Attn: Vicki Leonard
    A-2000, Hennepin County Government Center
    300 South Sixth Street
    Minneapolis, MN, 55487

For questions about property seized in a drug arrest in Hennepin County, contact Vicki Leonard at (612) 348-8192.

All claims must be filed at Room 306, Minneapolis City Hall, 350 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 
 

How to file a claim for property seized in a DWI arrest

This section refers ONLY to a claim for a motor vehicle seized in a DWI arrest under MN Statute § 169A.63.
  • Effective August 1, 2012, claims for return of seized property may be filed in Conciliation Court if the property is valued at $15,000 or less. No filing fee is charged for claims of property valued less than $500. If the claim is more than $500, up to the limit of $15,000, then the regular filing fee must be paid.
  • A party must have their copy of Form No. 2857 "Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Property" (sent to them by the City Attorney in the city of the arrest), and a copy must be attached to their Conciliation Court claim.
  • The Conciliation Court Statement of Claim & Summons form must be filed within 60 days following the service of the "Notice of Seizure."
  • The case should be titled: (Plaintiff’s name) Plaintiff vs. Seized property (description) c/o [name of City Attorney] City Attorney - Defendant.
  • If the claim is for $2500 or more, the court will issue service paperwork at time of filing the claim. The paperwork must be served on the City Attorney’s Office in the city where the forfeirture took place and to the law enforcement agency.
  • For questions about property seized during DWI arrests in Minneapolis, please contact Judd Gushwa at (612) 673-2644.
All claims must be filed at Room 306, Minneapolis City Hall, 350 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

How to file a counter-claim

You must file your counterclaim at least five (5) business days before the hearing date. Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and the hearing date are not included in the counting.

You can download the Conciliation Court Statement of Counterclaim form. When you have filled out your counterclaim, you must file it with the court and pay a filing fee.

The Conciliation Court will notify the plaintiff if a counterclaim is filed.

If the address shown on the plaintiff's claim form is not your correct address, you are responsible for providing the court with a correct and complete address.

If the counterclaim exceeds the legal limit of $15,000, you may waive the amount in excess of the limit, or you may file a written Affidavit explaining that you intend to file a counterclaim that exceeds the legal limit for Conciliation Court; that you have brought or will bring a claim in District Court against plaintiff within 30 days. If you do not start the District Court action within 30 days, plaintiff may have his or her claim reinstated in Conciliation Court.
 

Using mediation to settle a dispute

In mediation, you will meet with the other party and a mediator. The purpose of the meeting is to try to reach an agreement between you and the other party to settle the dispute. The mediator is not a judge and will not decide on the solution, but will help the parties reach an agreement. 

Hennepin County District Court encourages the use of mediation to settle your dispute. Read a brochure for more information about pre-filing mediation.

 Learn more about how to settle a case out of court.
 

Benefits of Mediation

  • Parties have equal say in the solution
  • Low or no cost
  • Quick
  • Mediate days, evenings or weekends - no missed work
  • Sessions scheduled in your neighborhood
  • Less stress
  • Informal

Types of Disputes

  • Business
  • Contracts
  • Creditors and Debtors
  • Damage to property
  • Employer/employee
  • Landlord/Tenant

Mediation Programs in Hennepin County

How to continue or reschedule a court date

If you have a conflict with the court date, send a letter to Conciliation Court at the following address:
Conciliation Court
Room #306, Minneapolis City Hall
350 South 5th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Your letter must meet the following requirements:
  • Explain the reason why you cannot be at the hearing.
  • The letter must be received at least five (5) days before the original hearing date (Saturday, Sunday, legal holidays, and the hearing date are not included in counting the days.)
  • Include your preferred days of the week and times for the new hearing date. The court will try to accommodate your request, but cannot guarantee a specific date or time.
  • If you have not already paid the initial filing fee, you must include the fee for the request to be processed.
You may ask to change your hearing date only one time. If you need to make additional requests, the Court may order you to pay costs of up to $50.

If you need a continuance because you have been unable to serve the other party, per Minnesota Rule of 508d, you must be able to serve and file proof of service within 60 days after issuance of summons.  If you are unable to meet this deadline, you need to dismiss and refile.
 

How to prepare for the hearing

Conciliation Court hearings are informal, but you must be prepared to present your case. Evidence, such as written documents and testimony from witnesses, will only be accepted at the hearing.

  • You may bring an attorney with you, but the Court will determine to what extent the attorney may participate.
  • Witnesses must be present and ready to testify under oath.
  • Written statements and affidavits of persons not present in court may or may not be acceptable. Primary consideration will be given to oral testimony.
  • If a witness is reluctant to appear, you may use a "subpoena" (written form from the court) to require them to appear. Subpoenas are available from the Conciliation Court for a fee.
  • You must bring all other evidence, such as receipts, repair bills, estimates and other items which relate to the dispute to court on the day of your hearing.
  • You can also demand that someone give you documents that relate to the dispute that another person has but is not willing to give to you voluntarily. You do this with a subpoena that you can get from the Conciliation Court for a fee.
  • You should prepare a list of facts you wish to present before you go to court.
  • Organize your presentation to make it clear and complete.
  • Be brief and to the point.
  • For a business, your representative for court may need a Power of Attorney.  See Concilitation Court rule 512 subd.c for more information.
 

MORE HELP

Visit the Conciliation Court Help Topic for more information and resources on representing yourself in a legal action in Conciliation Court.
 

Failure to appear at the hearing (includes "Special Term" process)

If a party fails to appear at a Conciliation Court hearing, the case could end up being stricken, dismissed, or a default judgment could be granted. For example:
 
  • If both the Plaintiff and the Defendant appear at the hearing, the case may settle or a trial may be held.
  • If the Plaintiff appears, but the Defendant does not, the court could grant a default judgement for the full amount of the claim.
  • If the Defendant appears, but the Plaintiff does not, the Plaintiff's case may be dismissed on the merits for failure to appear at hearing.
  • If both the Plaintiff and the Defendant do not appear at the hearing, Plaintiff's case may be stricken. To re-start the case, Plaintiff would have to re-file the claim.

How to Ask for a New Trial

When the Conciliation Court grants a "default" judgment or a judgment of "dismissal" on the merits for failure to appear at the hearing, the party who failed to appear may ask the court to grant a new trial if that party can prove that they had a justifiable reason why they missed the hearing. The reason(s) may include lack of notice, mistake, inadvertence or excusable neglect. See Rule 520 in the MN Rules of General Practice.
 

Within 20 Days of the Notice of Judgment

To request a new trial within 20 days since the Notice of Judgment was mailed, the party may file an "ex parte" Affidavit and Order to Vacate Judgment and Grant New Trial if the party who failed to appear gives a justifiable reason why they did not appear at the hearing. This may include lack of notice, mistake, inadvertence or excusable neglect as the cause of that party’s failure to appear.

Court Forms: ex parte Affidavit and Order to Vacate Judgment and Grant New Trial 
 

After 20 Days of the Notice of Judgment

To request a new trial after 20 days since the Notice of Judgment was mailed, the party must file a "Special Term" Motion with the Conciliation Court. The Special Term Judge will review the Motion and decide whether to vacate the judgment and grant a new trial.

Court Forms: "Special Term" Motion Instructions & Forms

A "Special Term" Motion may also be filed to ask the court to amend (change) the title of a Conciliation Court case, or to ask for permission to pay a judgment into the court.
 

Legal Resources

Conciliation Court Help Topic

Court staff are not allowed to give you legal advice or strategy and cannot assist you with your motion paperwork. If you do not understand the procedures, you could visit our main Self-Help Center. If you need help filling out the forms or need advice on your case, you could visit a legal advice clinic or find a lawyer on your own.

More legal resources are available at the Hennepin County Law Library, which is open to the public. The law library is on the 24th floor of the Courts Tower in the Hennepin County Government Center. 

The Court's decision

Normally the Court will not decide your claim at the time of the hearing. When a decision is reached, you will receive a "Order of Judgment" in the mail. You must give the court your current address so that you receive this Order. The Court's decision becomes final on the date and time shown on the Notice. Read all documents from the court very carefully.


What to do if you win a judgment

Conciliation court is not a collection agency and cannot assist you in locating assets.

You need to collect the judgment yourself. When you win your case, collecting a judgment is not always easy. You cannot collect assets that a debtor does not have.  The collection process will work only if you can locate collectable assets.

Judgments last for 10 years
A judgment lasts for ten (10) years after it is finalized, and you may try to collect the amount owed from the debtor's assets during that time. You may renew the judgment if you have not collected the amount owed within the ten year period.

Enforce a Judgment
The judgment Notice will have a date for the "statutory stay period" and once that date expires, if you have not been paid or if an appeal has not been filed, you may begin the steps to enforce the judgment. Go to Transcribing the judgment to District Court to learn more about this process. After the Conciliation Court transcript is prepared, all the paperwork will be sent to Civil Filing in District Court.

Suspend Debtor's Driver's License
If your judgment involves property damage from an automobile accident with an uninsured driver, you may try to get the debtor’s driver’s license suspended until the judgment is paid. Many people are willing to pay what they owe if they risk losing their license. Once the judgment has been final for 30 days, you can file the proper paperwork with the District Court asking the Commissioner of Public Safety to suspend the debtor's drivers license.  To see if the debtor has a motor vehicle registered in his or her name, call the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles Records Division at (651) 296-6911.

Judgments Office
For general information on the process of collecting your judgment, visit the Judgments Office page or call (612) 348-3169.
 

How to ask for a new trial after failure to appear at the hearing

Millissa – this section is a repeat of the “Failure to Appear at the Hearing” FAQ.  Is it necessary?
 

How to pay a judgment

You must pay the money directly to the judgment "creditor" (the party who won the case.) When you pay the creditor:
  • ask the creditor to sign a "Satisfaction of Judgment"
  • if payment is made in cash, file the Satisfaction with the Court within 10 days;
  • if payment is made any other way, file the Satisfaction within 30 days.
  • a Satisfactions of Judgment must be notarized and there is a filing fee to file it with the court.
The court record will not show the judgment has been satisfied until this document is filed with the court.

NOTE:
  • Judgment records are public information and credit bureaus routinely search them.
  • Failure to pay a judgment before the date it becomes final may negatively affect a debtor's credit score.

How to file a "removal" of the case and appeal to District Court

A party who disagrees with an Order for Judgment entered in Conciliation Court may "appeal" the case and "remove" it to District Court for a new trial. The removing party may be either the judgment debtor or creditor.
  • You cannot remove a case if you did not appear in Conciliation Court for the hearing and a default judgment was entered. In this situation, you file a Special Term Motion to re-open the case and ask for a new hearing date.
  • Although it is not required, it is strongly recommended that the removing party be represented by an attorney, as you will be expected to follow District Court Rules of Procedure.
NOTE: A corporation or LLC must be represented by an attorney in District Court, which includes having an attorney sign court papers on behalf of the client corporation or LLC. Except: For cases in the Hennepin County "Housing Court," MN Gen. Rule of Practice 603 may allow a principal (or agent) of the corporation or LLC to sign court papers or appear in court on behalf of the business entity. You should get legal advice if you have questions about this issue in your case.
  • Court staff may not give legal advice or help you prepare your removal. Refer to Find a Lawyer, or get a brief consultation with a volunteer attorney at the Legal Advice Clinic.
  • Effective September 1, 2012, attorneys who file a Demand for Removal from Conciliation Court must use the eFile system because the case is now a new Civil Court action.

Steps to File a Removal from Conciliation Court to District Court

  • The removal must be filed before the "stay of entry" date expires. This date is written in on the bottom portion of the Order for Judgment.
  • Download the Removal (Appeal) Forms, or you may pick up the required forms in person at the Clerk’s office, Room 306, Minneapolis City Hall, 350 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, MN or . The forms are:
    • Demand for Removal/Affidavit of Good Faith
    • Affidavit of Service
  • All parties or their attorneys must be served with the Demand for Removal. Service shall be by first class mail. Service may also be by personal service in accordance with the provisions for personal service summons in District Court.
  • After the removal is filed, the Conciliation Court judgment is "vacated." The case is sent to District Court and assigned a District Court case number.
  • Pay the filing fee.

How to transcribe a judgment to District Court

Request by Mail
In your letter asking for the judgment to be transcribed, include the following information:
  • Case number and parties (names(s) of plaintiff(s) and defendant(s));
  • Your name, address and phone number;
  • Completed Affidavit of Identification;
  • Check payable to the District Court Administrator (fee schedule)
If any of the required information is missing, your documents will be returned to you.
After the transcript is prepared, all the paperwork will be sent directly to District Court Judgments. You will receive a new file number from District Court.

Request in Person
Apply in person in Room 306 of the Minneapolis City Hall to request a transcript of your judgment. You will need to complete an Affidavit of Identification and pay a fee . After the transcript is prepared, we will send the paperwork to District Court Judgments. You will receive a new file number in the mail from them.

You may ask Civil Filing for written instructions on getting an Order for Disclosure, which you will need to collect your judgment. 

 e-Filing
Attorneys must e-File their request. This is done by:
  • Opening a new Trascript of Judgment case
  • Paying the $42 filing fee
  • Filing the Affidavit of Identification

How to locate a debtor's assets

 See How to Find Someone or get help from a lawyer.

Legal Advice Clinic

Volunteers from the Volunteer Lawyers Network provide free legal advice consults on general Conciliation Court issues and on appeals to District Court. If you qualify based on low income, you can meet face-to-face with an attorney for 15-20 minutes who will answer your questions and/or refer you to other places for help. You must be screened for financial eligibility to use the clinic.People are helped on a first-come, first-served basis.

Clinic Hours: (general legal issues)
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Clinic Hours: (appeals/removal to District Court)
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month

Location: 
Minneapolis City Hall, Room 312, 350 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN 55415

Conciliation Court Office Hours: 
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Monday - Friday, closed legal holidays
 

Mediation

In mediation, you will meet with the other party and a mediator. The purpose of the meeting is to try to reach an agreement between you and the other party to settle the dispute. The mediator is not a judge and will not decide on the solution, but will help the parties reach an agreement. 

Hennepin County District Court encourages the use of mediation to settle your dispute. Read a brochure for more information about pre-filing mediation.
 

Benefits of Mediation

  • Parties have equal say in the solution
  • Low or no cost
  • Quick
  • Mediate days, evenings or weekends - no missed work
  • Sessions scheduled in your neighborhood
  • Less stress
  • Informal

Types of Disputes

  • Business
  • Contracts
  • Creditors and Debtors
  • Damage to property
  • Employer/employee
  • Landlord/Tenant
Mediation Programs in Hennepin County  
Minneapolis City Hall
4th District Conciliation Court
Minneapolis City Hall
350 South 5th Street, Rm. #306
Minneapolis, MN 55415-0926  Map
Phone: (612)348-2713
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
Closed holidays

About Conciliation Court

Conciliation Court, also known as small claims court, handles civil cases involving money claims of $15,000 or less. Parties can bring relatively small claims to court without expensive costs, attorneys fees, or complicated legal procedures. Mediation is an option if you want to settle your dispute out of court. The information on this website is only a general explanation of the legal process and is not intended to be legal advice.