Key legislators say a bill to let Iowans take cases worth up to $10,000 to small claims court needs more work and the proposal will be tabled ’til next year.
Under current law, Iowans can ask a magistrate settle claims of under $5,000 in damages, but Representative Gary Worthan, a Republican from Storm Lake, says inflation has pushed some traditional small claims cases beyond that limit. “You start putting a transmission in a car, you’re pushing that $5,000 limit anymore,” Worthan says, “so if you have a disagreement over a repair bill, that eliminates it from small claims court.”
Iowans can go to small claims court, without a lawyer, to collect a debt or recover damages as long as the claim is less than $5,000. Court officials have raised concerns about raising the limit, however. Worthan says those concerns are valid. “If you start to get into a medical case that is less than $10,000 and you don’t have the experts and you don’t have people to testify and so on, that’s probably not the venue for that size of a case,” Worthan says.
For decades, small claims cases in Iowa were limited to disputes of less than $1,000. About a decade ago the limit was raised to any claim of less than $5,000. A bill dealing with this issue was tabled this week in the Iowa House.