Maine Court Records
What are Maine Small Claims Cases and Class Action Lawsuits?
State residents in Maine have the right to bring legal proceedings like small claims and class action cases against another person or corporation. In class-action proceedings, individuals take action against one or more groups rather than a single person or corporation. On the other hand, small claim cases are filed by individuals seeking fast and informal court proceedings involving financial claims below $6000. A small claims court is set up under the district court to resolve small claims lawsuits.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Maine?
Rule 23 of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure identifies a class action case as any case taken by or against individuals as participants of a class before the court declines to recognize it as such by order or suspends a prior certification by order. Chemical contamination, data hacks, illegal investment banking, drug lawsuits, salary abuse, gender discrimination, occupational welfare violations, insurance litigation, bullying against workers, and false ads are examples of class action cases.
How do I File a Claim in a Maine Small Claims Court?
In Maine, state residents can initiate a small claims lawsuit at the small claims court located in the district court. It is advisable to file these suits in the county where the incident happened, where the accused lives, or where the corporation is based. For landlord/tenant disputes, the lawsuit should be filed in the county where a property is located. Plaintiffs will be given a Statement of Claim (SC–001) to complete and submit. Note that the claimant must be 18 years old or above to pursue a small claims lawsuit. However, if the claimant is a minor, a parent or guardian can submit this lawsuit.
The applicant is then allowed to send this application to the court clerk in person or through mail, together with the application fee. Extra charges may be included for notifying the accused person or corporation. Claimants may contact the court clerk directly to find out the charges required since the cost differs from one county to the other. Also, at the initial filing, the complainant may submit the necessary documentation available to support the claim. Some of these documents may include bank statements, sketches, figures, agreements, canceled checks, affidavits, photos, and emails. However, since the procedures are simpler, easier, and less costly, it could be better to appeal to a district court.
Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?
No, small claims cases can be resolved without the help of a professional lawyer. So many small claim lawsuits in Maine have been handled at the small claims court without an attorney. Nevertheless, an attorney can help to collect the appropriate and legal documentation for a hearing. It is also recommended to hire professional help when suing a large corporation or if the matter is challenged at the district court. This is because the proceedings in small claims are more structured and rigorous at the district court.
How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Maine?
Under the class-action rule in Maine, a class action case occurs when a group of individuals popularly referred to as ‘class’ files a petition about the legal offenses committed by an individual or company. Before a class action suit can proceed, the district court must validate the lawsuit by ensuring it meets the requirements laid out under the class action rule. The requirements are:
- Numerous class members are involved in the case, which may not be practicable to resolve individually.
- Question of law, facts, and proofs that are common to all class members
- A conflict of interest does not exist among the representatives of the class.
- The class members will be represented equally and sufficiently.
The class is told of the complaint if the judge certifies the case, and the case is prosecuted. At the time of registration, the defendant could raise concerns about the fairness of the allegation. When the investigation is completed, and testimony is obtained, the matter is transferred to a court or jury trial to assess the defendant’s guilt and damages. However, the state law covers conditions whereby a class action may be compromised, settled, or discontinued upon approval. Class action lawsuits are complex because they involve large corporations and a considerable number of claimants. As a result, these cases may take months to settle.
Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?
The benefits of class action suits over single party cases depend on the injury or damages sustained by a defendant. If the damages suffered by an individual are more severe than those suffered by other people in the class, such a person may be advised to pursue a single party claim. Nevertheless, contrary to this, a person will profit from a class-action lawsuit since it is the less costly alternative. This is because participants bear the legal expenses. One big advantage of a class action case is fast legal proceedings and a better guarantee of winning the case. The Maine law on class action guarantees sufficient and qualified counsel for the claimants in class action cases before the court proceedings can continue. Unlike class action cases that are less expensive, plaintiffs in a single party lawsuit may be subjected to high legal costs to get fair representation.
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:
- 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 Maine?
As contained under Maine statute, all financial disputes must not exceed $6000, and it must be brought before a small claims court. Some of the cases covered under small claims include:
- Debt recovery for products or services unpaid by a person or business;
- A transaction from an individual or company for inadequate products where the defendant refuses to refund, offer a loan, have an appropriate swap, or fix the merchandise;
- Issues with the previous landlord who has declined to refund a security deposit without a good explanation;
- Issues with an earlier occupant who has failed to pay for the damages to the rental property for which it is liable; or
- Issues involving private possessions lent to individuals who refuse to return or return it in a broken state.