Civil or large claim cases are filed with the Clerk of Courts. This case type may include claims of personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, foreclosure of property, money claims exceeding $10,000.00, as well as actions to change one’s legal name. A civil case may involve actions taken against another for the purpose of protection to include harassment or domestic restraining orders. Civil cases generally take longer to resolve, are more costly, and the rules are more complicated and formal than small claims cases. Civil procedures are contained in Chapter 801 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Some important things to consider when deciding whether to file a large claim lawsuit:

If you are not sure how to handle a large claim matter from filing to disposition (conclusion), it is best to seek legal assistance. Large claim lawsuits, and the statutes that govern them, can be confusing and often require someone with legal experience to fully understand the process. The Clerk of Courts staff, Court Commissioners, Judges and other court personnel can provide limited procedural information, but are not allowed to provide legal advice.

The Civil Department of the Clerk of Courts does not provide any forms or instructions for large claim matters, with the exception of restraining orders and name change forms.

Types of Restraining Orders – Wisconsin has four different types of restraining orders, each with different rules relating to who can file and what type of conduct must be alleged. Additional information in greater detail and forms regarding restraining orders can be obtained on line by using this link –

Most large claim actions require a filing fee. The fee will vary depending on the type of case being filed. It is paid at the time of filing with the Clerk of Courts. See Circuit Court Fee Table:

All Sheriff’s Departments and private processors that serve paperwork on parties to an action will charge a fee to the requesting party. The fee varies depending on the agency or processor.

Common Definitions

  • Summons: The form used to notify the defendant of a lawsuit.
  • Complaint: The statement describing why the defendant is being sued.
  • Answer: A statement setting forth the basis of a defense – filed by the defendant.
  • Counterclaim: A claim by the defendant in opposition to the claim of the plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff: The person(s) filing the lawsuit.
  • Defendant: The person(s) being sued.
  • Scheduling Conference: (Not always applicable but may be warranted.) This is the first meeting between the attorneys (or parties) to discuss the merits of the case and set future dates.
  • Final Pretrial: The last meeting between the judge and attorneys (or parties) before the case proceeds to trial.
  • Motion: A written request filed with a court by a party to an action, asking the court to issue a ruling or order.
  • Trial: Examination of evidence and law by a judge or jury to determine the outcome of specific charges or claims. In large claim cases, a trial is held before a Circuit Court Judge.
  • Judgment: A determination of a court of law that may involve a monetary award to one party.
  • Judgment Creditor: Successful party in a lawsuit who receives a money judgment in their favor.
  • Judgment Debtor: Unsuccessful party in a lawsuit who has a money judgment granted against them.
  • Satisfaction: A document indicating that the judgment has been paid. Must be signed by the judgment creditor and notarized – file the original with the Clerk of Court with $5.00 fee.

We hope this basic information provides some necessary & helpful guidance when deciding whether to proceed with a large claim lawsuit. If unsure how to proceed please seek legal assistance.