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According to https://www.courts.michigan.gov/siteassets/forms/scao-approved/instdc84.pdf:

If your damage is the result of an intentional wrongdoing, such as fraud, libel, slander, malicious destruction of property, or assault and battery, you cannot bring your action in the small claims division of the district court unless the wrongdoing is for a dishonored check, consumer protection violation, or recreational trespass.

I made a purchase in which I later discovered the sellers had concealed damage in need of repair. Sellers are individuals, not a business. Is this classified as fraud for which I cannot seek restitution in small claims, or is there any technicality on which this case might be accepted at small claims court in Michigan?

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  • It’s only misrepresentation if the concealment is deliberate - if you just didn’t see it, they have no duty to disclose it.
    – Dale M
    Mar 14 at 21:36
  • Concealment was deliberate. I have it in writing from one of the couple that part X is okay before purchasing. After purchasing and finding problems with X, I have it in writing from the other of the couple that they always had problems with X.
    – Isaac
    Mar 14 at 22:09
  • that’s not deliberate - maybe the first person didn’t know about the problem
    – Dale M
    Mar 14 at 22:11
  • You're right, that is a possibility.
    – Isaac
    Mar 14 at 22:18

1 Answer 1

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Can I sue in Michigan small claims court for misrepresentation on a sale?

Yes. MCL 600.8401 limits only the amount of money that can be recovered in Small Claims proceedings, not other elements underlying the claims. See Kerekes v. Bowlds, 179 Mich.App. 805, 812 (1989) ("The purpose of the small claims division is to facilitate the resolution of disputes involving small sums.").

Even if ones reads into Kaiser v. Smith, 188 Mich.App. 495, n.1 (1991) a prohibition of claims of fraud in Small Claims court, your matter appears to be a contract dispute regardless of whether fraud could be an alternative claim. That is because "[A]ccompanying every contract is a common-law duty to perform with ordinary care the thing agreed to be done, and . . . a negligent performance constitutes a tort as well as a breach of contract", Webb v. David Eric Williams, Inc., (COA, unpublished, 2009) (citations omitted). Schomaker v. Armour, Inc., 550 N.W.2d 863 (1996) reflects an instance of a claim of breach of contract that was decided in Small Claims.

Something to bear in mind is that "a party appearing in small claims court waives the right of appeal" unless the case is decided by a magistrate. See MCL 600.8427 and Schomaker.

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  • Thank you! Following those links, I don't see anything that appears to involve a claim of deliberate harm. Would introducing that element cause the case to be inadmissible?
    – Isaac
    Mar 14 at 22:20
  • 1
    @Isaac "Would introducing that element cause the case to be inadmissible?" No. It only implies that the seller was worse than negligent. The authority cited in Webb reflects that negligence is just the minimum a plaintiff would need to prove as to defendant's state of mind. Even if there is no negligence, you as the harmed party might be entitled to void the contract as long as your knowledge of X amounts to a basic assumption on which the contract was made. See Restatement (Second) of Contracts at §§151 et seq. Mar 14 at 23:47
  • I don't wish to void the contract, actually, just to get reimbursed the cost of repair.
    – Isaac
    Mar 15 at 15:51
  • I have begun to create the paperwork using the tool at lawhelpinteractive.org/Interview/GenerateInterview/2620/engine. I am stymied by this: "If your case involves intentional wrongdoing and not one of the exceptions listed, it will be dismissed and there will be no refund of the money paid to file this Affidavit and Claim or any related costs."
    – Isaac
    Mar 16 at 16:52
  • @Isaac A disclaimer from a website that is not even from a governmental agency does not supersede the legislation and court decisions which reflect claims of breach of contract being decided in Small Claims court. I don't know, but the paperwork tool might not even be suitable for Small Claims proceedings in your jurisdiction. In the comments to this answer, I recently debunked an allegation from another website regarding non-disparagement clauses. Not every "lawyerish" [re-]source available on the Internet is reliable. Mar 17 at 12:29

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