Utah Courts

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One thought on “Rules of Small Claims Procedure
  1. Paul H. Johnson

    The way this amendment is worded, the amendment appears to be drafted solely for the purpose of helping small claims court judges clear court dockets of small claim cases where service has not been completed, to the prejudice of the rights of small claims plaintiffs who have filed such cases. Even though the dismissal is without prejudice, there is no provision in the amendment that explains how it will be applied to existing lawsuits. If it is applied retroactively to a case that has been pending for more than one year and 120 days, and if the statute of limitations has passed for the filing of such lawsuit, the unintended, practical effect of such a dismissal without prejudice will be exactly the same as a dismissal with prejudice, because the one year window to refile a case dismissed other than on the merits, pursuant to §UCA 78-12-40 will have expired. Also, there is no provision in the statute to inform a plaintiff of the dismissal of the case (this is one of the problems with the language of the current Rule 4 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure–some courts dismiss cases for failure to serve the complaint timely without notifying the plaintiff of such dismissal. In a small claims case, where the litigants are often lay persons, there is a strong likelihood that many plaintiffs 1) will have their cases “deemed” to be dismissed, 2) will not understand what this means, 3) will be given no formal notice of the dismissal, and 4) will ultimately be denied access to the courts by the expiration of the statute of limitations, because they were unaware of the court’s dismissal of their case.
    On the other hand, if the rule were redrafted to contain language similar to URCP Rule 4, and if notice of the dismissal was required to be given to the plaintiff, the above problems could be avoided. This way you would have no dismissal until the court had actually proactively dismissed the case, and notice had been given to the plaintiff.