City Court Civil Division
The Court has civil jurisdiction over cases involving $35,000 or less, small claims up to $5,000, and evictions. Initial filing fees are charged to file civil suits, small claims, evictions, and other pleadings. Detailed information concerning costs may be obtained by visiting the Civil Filing Fees page or by contacting the Civil Division of the City Court.
Various type civil actions are brought in City Court. The Court has available a Small Claims Division (LA. R.S. 13:5201 et seq & Local Rule 21), which handles actions involving $5,000 or less. However, civil actions are only placed in this small claims division on the specific request of the filer. The Court also entertains Eviction Actions (LA. C.C.P. 4701 et seq. & Local Rule 22) for removal of occupants to property that no longer have a right to be there. All other civil actions filed in the Court are handled as regular civil actions.
A regular civil action is initiated by the filing of a “Petition”, which is a demand for enforcement of a legal right. LA. C.C.P. 891 et seq Generally, a “petition” contains “a short, clear, and concise statement of all causes of action arising out of, and the material facts of, the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the litigation”. The “petition” must also contain a plea for whatever relief is sought. LA. C.C.P. 891 A The “petition”, like all pleadings in a civil action, must comply with the procedural rules for pleadings. See LA. C.C.P. 853-863 & Local Rules 15-20 To file a petition in a civil action, the attorney or litigant must pay the sum of $126.00 . In addition, if service of process is to be made outside the City of Shreveport, there are additional fees depending on the location of the defendant to be served. To determine what the fees will be, refer to the Cost Sheet which is attached as Exhibit D
Citations and Service
Once a “petition” has been filed, a “Citation” must be issued and served upon all defendants along with a copy of the “petition”, which is known as service of process. LA. C.C.P. 1201 et seq The court has no authority over any defendant until this service is made. It is the obligation of the plaintiff who filed the “petition” to insure that the service is made. The plaintiff must provide an address to the court where the Marshal can effect such service. If the address turns out to be insufficient, it is the obligation of the plaintiff to provide another address. The civil action cannot proceed further until after service of process is made.
Once service of process is made, the defendant has ten (10) days to respond [unless defendant is served through the secretary of state whereupon fifteen (15) days are permitted]. LA. C.C.P. 4903
The response to a petition is an “answer”. LA. C.C.P. 1001 et seq However, there are several other pleadings which may be filed prior to filing the answer. A defendant may file “Exceptions” which are means of defense to retard, dismiss or defeat the demand in the petition. LA. C.C.P. 921 There are three (3) kinds of “exceptions”: declinatory, dilatory and peremptory. See LA.C.C.P. 921 et seq When an exception is filed prior to answer, the delay for answering is extended until ten (10) days after a ruling on, or referral to the merits of, the exception. LA. C.C.P. 1001
The “Answer” shall admit or deny the allegations of the “petition”, state in short and concise terms the material facts upon which the defenses to the action asserted are based, and shall set forth all affirmative defenses. LA. C.C.P. 1004 The answer shall also contain a prayer for the relief sought.
If service of process has been made and no “answer” is filed within the delays set by the law (including delays occasioned by the filing of exceptions), the plaintiff may pursue a judgment by default. Unlike actions in the State District Courts, no preliminary default is required. LA. C.C.P. 4904 A To secure a default judgment, plaintiff must produce relevant and competent evidence which establishes a prima facie case. LA. C.C.P. 4904 B In cases involving a sum due on open account, promissory note, negotiable instrument, or other negotiable instrument, proof may be submitted by affidavit and no proof of any signature on a promissory note or other negotiable instrument shall be required. LA .C.CP. 4904 B No hearings shall be held in these matters unless ordered by a judge. LA. C.C.P. 4904 C
In addition to the proof set forth above, a plaintiff must submit an original and at least one copy of a proposed judgment. LA. C.C.P. 4904 C The clerk of court shall certify that no “answer” or other pleading has been filed by defendant. LA. C.C.P. 4904 C The proof submitted, certificate of the clerk, and the proposed judge shall be submitted to the judge for consideration and signing. A certified copy of the judgment shall be sent to the plaintiff. A copy of the judgment will be served upon the defendant (by mail if the defendant was personally served or by the Marshal if there was no personal service). LA. C.C.P. 4905 & 1913