Civil Division

Civil Division
The Civil Division is responsible for handling civil cases seeking damages less than $30,000.  The types of cases heard include: contract, property damage, personal injury, eviction, replevin, Housing, attachments and garnishments.  Daley Center, Room 602 (312) 603-5116.


Civil Division Pro Se
Pro se petitioners can file for up to $3,000 in small claims.  The party must act as his/her own attorney.  Assistance is provided through the Chief Judge's Office.  Daley Center, Room 602 (312) 603-5626.


Records Maintained

Case Types: The Civil Division maintains records for all claims under $30,000 as listed above, including, but not limited to the following matters: Contracts, Personal Injury/Tort, Administrative Review, Housing, Forcible/Joint Action (Evictions).
Dates: Civil Division files are retained for 21 years and then destroyed pursuant to statute. A sample of cases is retained from each year for historical purposes.
Available Indexes: Circuit Court and Superior Court, both plaintiff and defendant indexes (on microfilm), 1871- present

Breach of Warranty
A breach of an express or implied warranty relating to the title, quality, content, or condition of goods sold (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Breech of Contract
Violation of a contractual obligation by failing to perform one's own promise by repudiating it, or by interferring with another party's performance (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Confession of Judgement
A person's agreeing to the entry of judgment upon the occurence or non occurrence of an event, such as making a payment.  A judgment taken against a debtor by the creditor, based on the debtor's written consent (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Consumer Fraud

Deceptive practices that result in financial or other losses for consumers in the course of seemingly legitimate business transactions (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Consumer+Fraud).

Detinue
A common-law action to  recover personal property wrongfully taken by another (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Evictions (Forcible Entry and Detainer)
A summary proceeding in which the landlord seeks to restore possession of the premises or payment of rent when the tenant has wrongfully withheld rent or possession of the premises (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Foreign Judgment
A judgment rendered by a court of a state or country different from that where the judgment or its effect is at issue (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004). 
Fraud
A knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment. Unconscionable dealing; especially, in contract law, the unfair use of the power arising out of the parties' relative positions and resulting in an unconscionable  bargain (Blacks Law Dictionary, 2004).
Housing
A lawsuit which is brought into court by the City of Chicago in reference to housing violations, which include but is not limited to, lead paint, broken windows, broken stairs, heat cases, etc.
Pro Se Court
The Pro Se Court section of the Civil Division resolves disputes between parties where the amount at issue does not exceed $3,000. The party may act as their own attorney. 
Registration of Administrative Judgment
A registration of judgment is an official recording of the award made in a lawsuit for purposes of serving public notice of the debt owed by the defendant. (http://definitions.uslegal.com/r/registration-of-judgment/)
Replevin
An action for the repossession of personal property wrongfully taken or detained by the defendant, whereby the plaintiff gives security for and holds the property until the court decides who owns it (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Statutory Action Complaint
An action governed by statutory law rather than equitable, civil, or common law (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Tort/Not Personal Injury
A civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages; a breach of a duty that the law imposes on persons who stand in a particular relation to one another (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004).
Tort/Personal Injury
Any wrong or damage done to another person, such as, physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition resulting from the careless or negligent actions of others. The most common cases involve auto accident injuries.

Q: I want to file a lawsuit, what forms do I need and where can I get them?
A: To file a lawsuit, you must complete a Complaint form, a Summons form, as well as a Civil Division Action Cover Sheet. These forms are available in the Civil Division of the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County (Clerk’s Office) in Room 601 of the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 West Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60602.

Also, you will have to serve the Defendant either through the Sheriff’s Office or by Certified Mail. You may serve by Certified Mail, if your claim does not exceed $10,000 (Check box for Certified Mail on Summons.)  You may refer to “How do I serve the Defendant” below for information on serving the Defendant.

The Complaint and Summons forms can be downloaded HERE


Q: Will I have to pay a filing fee and if so for what amount?
A: Yes, you will be required to pay a filing fee. The fee will vary depending on the amount of your claim. You may pick up a schedule of filing fees at the Customer Service Counter in the Civil Division in Room 601 in the Richard J. Daley Center, or go to the Civil Division page and view the fee schedule on the bottom-right of the page.


Q: Will I have to pay for service by Certified Mail?
A: Yes, you will be required to pay the Clerk’s Office a nominal fee to serve by Certified Mail. NOTE: You may only choose to serve by Certified Mail if your case is under $10,000.  Certified Mail fees are subject to be changed by the U.S. Postal Service. 


Q: What must I do after I have completed the Complaint and Summons?
A: After you have completed the Complaint, Summons and Civil Division Action Cover Sheet, get a Return Date from the blackboard in 601 or 602 of the Richard J. Daley Center. You will need to put a Return Date on both the Complaint and Summons forms. The Return Date is important because this is the date by which the party you are suing (the Defendant) must respond.


Q: Will I (the Plaintiff) need to come to Court on the Return Date?
A: No.  The Plaintiff does not need to come to court on the Return Date unless you are filing a Forcible Detainer (Eviction), Replevin, Detinue or Revival of Judgment case. The Return Date is only important for the Defendant, the person or party you are suing-- because the Defendant must respond to the lawsuit on or before the Return Date. Think of the Return Date as a response date by which the Defendant must respond to your lawsuit.

Note: The return date is an actual court date when filing the following types of lawsuits: Forcible Detainer (Eviction), Replevin, Detinue or Revival of Judgment.


View All Civil Division Frequently Asked Questions

Article: Appearance Counter Procedures

The Civil Division Appearance Counter is located at 50 W. Washington, Daley Center in Room 602.

Article: Filing Documents in Summons Control

Customer comes to black drop box in Room 602 (located near the Appearance Counter).

Article: How to File an Eviction

Serve five-day or 30 day notices,  give a copy to tenant, have your copy notarized.  (This is your proof to the judge that you have followed legal procedure.)

Article: Posting Notice Procedures

Check the number of service attempts by the Sheriff in Room 602.

Article: Special Process Server

Go to the motion counter in Room 601.  Get forms for Special Process Server. (S.P.S. forms)

Article: Special Process Server for 11th Floor Non-Jury Routine Motions

Customer puts the completed Motions for Special Process Server in the appropriate drop box in room 601.

Article: Satisfaction Release of Judgment & Memorandum of Judgment for 11th Floor

Customer puts the completed Motions for Satisfaction Release of Judgment or Memorandum of Judgment for the 11th floor in the appropriate drop box in room 601.

Article: Return of Service

The Return of Service processed in the Summons Control Department include, but are not limited to, Contracts, Torts, Personal Injury and Replevins. A brief listing of what a Return of Service should include is a Summons, Complaint and an Affidavit of Service. All Returns of Service should include a valid return date and case number to reference for processing.

Returns of Service for Evictions should be taken to the Eviction Counter in Room 602.


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