Union County Small Claims Court
Caution: A minor cannot file an action in small claims court on their own behalf. He or she must have their parent or guardian file it on their behalf.
Types of Actions Generally Filed in Small Claims Court:
- Oral or Written Breach of Contract
- Action for the Return of a Down Payment
- Damage to a Motor Vehicle
- Damage or Loss of Property
- Faulty Workmanship, Defective Merchandise (and other consumer complaints)
- Payment for Labor Performed
- Checks Written Without Funds in the Account
- Back Rent
- Action Seeking Return of Security Deposit (Special Note: you can seek up to, and including $5,000 for return of security deposit)
Small Claims Court is one of three sections of Union Superior Court’s Special Civil Part (the other two sections are Landlord / Tenant and regular Special Civil Part). Small Claims is a court where someone (the plaintiff) may bring an action against another person (the defendant) for money the plaintiff believes the defendant owes for one reason or another. Small Claims cases are designed to follow rules and procedures that are much simpler and easier to understand than a regular civil case. Because of this, one is able to file and present a case quickly and inexpensively. Generally, people file their own cases and represent themselves in court. A party can only ask the court for monetary relief not exceeding $3,000. If the amount you are seeking is more than $3,000, but does not exceed $15,000, the case can be filed in regular Special Civil Part. Special Note: You can file in small claims court if your claim exceeds $3,000 but you waive or forego your right to recover money in excess of the $3,000 limit (you also cannot file an additional action to recover the excess).
Union County Ombudsman
Each County in New Jersey has an Ombudsman. They can assist you with questions you may have about your small claims case. For Union County, that person is Linda Wiggins who can be reached by telephone at 908-659-4644 or fax at 908-659-4605. The email address for the ombudsman is UnnOmbudsman.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claims NOT handled in Union County Small Claims Court
- Malpractice (alleged malpractice by a doctor, lawyer, dentist, etc.)
- Any action for support (either alimony or otherwise)
- Probate matters (you are claiming you are owed under a will, trust, or other estate instrument)
Special Civil Part in Union Superior Court
This section handles cases where the amount sought is more than $3,000 but equal to or less than $15,000. These cases have more formal rules and procedures than regular small claims court. Cases exceeding $15,000 are filed in the Law Division.
Areas Served by the Union County Small Claims Court
The following areas are served by the Union County Court: Elizabeth, Union, Plainfield, Linden, Westfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Summit, Hillside, Roselle, Springfield, Clark, Roselle Park, Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Kenilworth, Fanwood, Mountainside, Garwood, and Winfield Township.
Can I file my case in Union County?
A claim must be filed in the County where at least one of the Defendants lives or where the business is located. The location of a business is whichever county it is actually doing business or where the business’s registered office is located. For example if you want to sue your mechanic and their shop is located in Union County, you may file your case here. If you have a case with more than one defendant, you may file a case in a County where any of the defendants reside. If no defendants in the case live in a New Jersey County, the claim needs to be filed in the County where the action arose. For example, if you were in a car accident in Union County and the defendant does not reside in New Jersey, you should file in the County where the accident occurred.
Appeals from Union County Small Claims Court Cases
If a party does not agree with the court’s decision on a case, the party can appeal the case to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days of judgment. You need to file a Notice of Appeal, a copy of the Request for Transcript, and a Case Information Statement within the 45 days with the Clerk of the Appellate Division located at the Hughes Justice Complex, Trenton. You also need to file these documents with all parties to the case, the clerk where your case was first heard, and to the judge who made the ruling. Additionally, the person seeking an appeal has to pay a filing fee of $200. An additional deposit of $300 is required to be posted within 30 days (of the Notice of Appeal). The deposit is used for settlement costs or court costs and is returned to the appealing party if they prevail on the appeal. A transcript of the original trial proceedings needs to be obtained. A transcript is a written copy of the proceedings that occured at the trial. The transcript can be expensive. You are required to post the estimate for the cost of the transcript. Alternatively, you will be charged $300 for each day or partial day of trial transcript required for the appeal (most small claims court cases only require part of a court’s day). Because of the high costs of appeal, it is all the more important to be prepared for your original trial so that you need not rely on an appeal. Additional information and answer to most questions can be found by contacting the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Division for New Jersey at (609) 292-4822.
Location of Union County Small Claims Court
The Union County Small Claims Courthouse is located at:Special Civil Part Old Annex, 3rd Floor 2 Broad Street Elizabeth, NJ 07207
The telephone number is (908) 659-4900.