How to File a Civil Action Lawsuit in the State of Maryland

By Patrice D. Wimbush
Use the court system to settle a civil dispute.

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Filing a civil claim may help a person recover money or property in Maryland. You may file a large or small claim, depending on the amount owed. Small claims must be for monetary amounts of less than $5,000 and filed in a Maryland district court. (See References 1) You can file claims for property and damages up to $5,000 in district court. Circuit and district courts handle property claims ranging from $5,000 to $30,000. Circuit courts handle property claims over $30,000. (See References 2) If you cannot resolve your dispute out of court, take the appropriate steps to file a civil action lawsuit.

Download a complaint form from the District Court of Maryland website (courts.state.md.us) or visit the district court in your area. (See References 1)

Complete the complaint form. Add the address of the district court. Do not write in the section labeled “Case Number”; the court clerk will enter that information. List your name as the plaintiff in the section labeled “Parties.” List each defendant in the sections labeled “Vs.” (See References 3)

Use the full name of each party in the lawsuit. When suing a sole proprietor or partnership, list the owner as the defendant. List the owner and the company name if not. If you are unsure of the company name, contact the Department of Assessments and Taxation or conduct an online search using the department’s “Business Data Search” located under “Online Services” (dat.state.md.us).(See References 1)

Explain the facts of your case. List the amounts plus any owed interest and attorney's fees. Sign the complaint form and list your name, address and telephone number. (See References 3)

Complete the “Military Service Affidavit” section. You must verify each defendant's military status. (See References 1) Access the Defense Manpower Data Center website (dmdc.osd.mil) and click “Quick Links” at the top of the webpage. Scroll down the page and click “Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA).” Enter the defendant’s information and press “LookUp.” Provide as much information as possible to receive an accurate result. If you do not have Internet access, contact each military branch to obtain military status. The Department of Defense will not verify military status. (See References 4)

Fill in the “Application and Affidavit in Support of Judgment” section if you have documentation that supports your claim. You do not have to complete this section to file your claim. (See References 1)

File your complaint form, along with the appropriate filing fees, in the district court clerk’s office. (See References 1) At the time of publication, a small claims complaint costs $28 and large claim cost $38. Include an additional $40 service of process fee for each defendant if the sheriff completes service. Service of process by mail costs $10 for each defendant. (See References 5)

Serve each defendant using certified mail, private process server, constable or sheriff. Provide proof of service. (See References 1)

Prepare for the upcoming trial. (See References 1)

About the Author

Residing in Clarksville, Tenn., Patrice D. Wimbush has been writing since 2002, with her work appearing on various websites. Her areas of writing expertise are contract and criminal law. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Murray State University and a Master of Arts in communication from Austin Peay State University.

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