Cattaraugus County Small Claims Court
How do I begin a Small Claims Court case?
You must file your case in the correct location (where the defendant lives or if the defendant is a business than where the business has an open office). Visit the court for that town or village, and the court will provide you with the paperwork to begin the action. The forms will ask for a statement of your case. The statement is a fancy way of asking what your case is about. This should be brief and include all important facts. If your claim arises under property damage or a contract, you may claim interest on top of your damages. Most courts have a clerk who can assist you to ensure you follow the procedures (and answer questions). In the few courts that do not have clerks, the judge can assist you.
The logistics (date and time) of the hearing will be provided to you by the court (the small claims court may not hear cases every day). The clerk provides the defendant with the statement of the claim and the date and time of the hearing (this is called “service”). The clerk sends the notice via certified and first-class mail. If the notice sent by first-class mail is not returned as undeliverable, the defendant is deemed to be “served,” even if the notice sent by certified mail has not been delivered (otherwise a defendant could simply refuse to sign for the certified mail). If the defendant cannot be served by mail, the clerk can provide you with instructions on how to serve the defendant personally (the clerk will give you a new hearing date and time). Due Process (a fancy way of saying fairness) requires that the defendant be served prior to a hearing on your case. The court will dismiss the case if the defendant cannot be served within four months. However, if you learn new information of the defendant’s location, you can refile in that court (or the new court where the defendant is now located).
Hearing Day Procedures
You should arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the time designated for your hearing. When you arrive, you should look for the small claims court calendar or for a clerk to assist you. On the calendar, cases are listed by the last name of the plaintiff and then the defendant (or name of the business). If you cannot find your case, you should contact the clerk (or judge if there is no clerk). Courtrooms have different procedures. In some courtrooms, the clerk checks in parties as they arrive. Some courts simply have you wait until your case is called.
When your case is called, be ready to tell the judge if you are ready for the case to go forward (and the judge to hear your evidence) or if you need to make a request (like a request for a continuance). If both sides are ready, the court will proceed to hear the case.
Do I get a jury trial in small claims court?
A defendant (and only a defendant) can request a jury trial for a small claims court case. The demand must be made prior to the actual hearing date. An affidavit (sworn statement) has to be filed which identifies the factual issues a jury is needed to hear. The judge will then decide whether the case will remain in small claims court or be transferred to the regular civil part. If the case remains in regular small claims court, six jurors are used to hear the case.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
In small claims court cases heard in the village or town courts, you are not required to hire an attorney. In fact, the rules and procedures are designed to be informal so that you should not have to retain an attorney. That said, you may choose to hire an attorney to represent you. If attorneys are representing parties on both sides of the v, (plaintiff and defendant), the court may transfer the case to the regular civil part.
Am I able to sue in small claims court?
Small clams court is open to any party who is a person 18 years of age or older. If you are a younger than 18, the parent or guardian may bring the action on your behalf. Usually, corporations, partnerships, or other assignees are unable to sue in Small Claims Court (but they can bring an action in Commercial Claims Court which is located at the same court where your small claims court case would normally be filed). These corporate entities are able to be sued in small claims court. In these cases, the corporation or partnership can authorize an attorney, director, or employee of the entity to appear on its behalf (to defend the action).
Can I ask for a continuance?
In small claims court cases, a continuance can also be called an adjournment. The court generally discourages continuances in the interest of resolving disputes quickly and inexpensively. Only the court can grant a continuance. You can ask for an adjournment by sending a letter to the court before your hearing date. You should also send a copy of the letter to the other party. You can also ask for a continuance on the actual day of the hearng, but the court may be inclined to deny it (because you waited so long to ask for one). Always be prepared to go forward on that date in case the court denies your request.
Cattaraugus County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Cattaraugus County. One can sue for $3,000.00 or less in a town or village court in Cattaraugus County. The purpose of small claims court and the motivation behind the relaxed evidentiary rules and procedures is to allow these cases to be resolved informally and without making a party hire an attorney. Note: If you have a claim for more than $3,000, you cannot separate it into two claims to be under the limit. The only relief available in small claims court cases is monetary. You cannot sue someone to force a person or business to perform a task (like fix a car) or return a personal item. Money is the only remedy available (on claims and counterclaims). A plaintiff or claimant can also sue a public entity like a city or other agency. However, you have to file a claim with that agency before filing your small claims court action. The claim must be filed within ninety days of the incident. If you fail to follow this rule, your case will be dismissed.
Small Claims Court Locations in Cattaraugus County
Every town and village of Cattaraugus County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Cattaraugus County Small Claims Cases are handled in 36 locations for the following towns and villages: Allegany Town, Allegany Village, Ashford Town, Carrollton Town, Coldspring Town, Conewango Town, Dayton Town, East Otto Town, Ellicottville Town, Ellicottville Village, Farmersville Town, Franklinville Town, Freedom Town, Great Valley Town, Hinsdale Town, Humphrey Town, Ischua Town, Leon Town, Little Valley Town, Lyndon Town, Machias Town, Mansfield Town, Napoli Town, New Albion Town, Olean Town, Otto Town, Perrysburg Town, Persia Town, Portville Town, Portville Village, Randolph Town, Red House Town, Salamanca Town, South Dayton Village, South Valley Town, and Yorkshire Town.
The locations for the courts are:
Allegany Town Court3790 Birch Run Road PO Box 254 Allegany, NY 14706
Allegany Village Court106 East Main Street Allegany, NY 14706
Ashford Town Court9377 Route 240 PO Box 306 West Valley, NY 14171
Carrollton Town Court641 Main Street PO Box 146 Limestone, NY 14753
Coldspring Town CourtPO Box J Steamburg, NY 14783
Conewango Town CourtRoute 241 Town Highway Building Conewango Valley, NY 14726
Dayton Town Court9100 Route 62 South Dayton, NY 14138
East Otto Town Court9014 East Otto-Springville Road P.O. Box 24 East Otto, NY 14729
Ellicottville Town CourtP.O. Box 600 Ellicottville, NY 14731
Ellicottville Village Court1 West Washington Street PO Box 1049 Ellicottville, NY 14731
Farmersville Town CourtLake Street Route 98 Franklinville, NY 14737
Franklinville Town CourtPO Box 146 Franklinville, NY 14737
Freedom Town Court1188 Eagle Street Sandusky, NY 14133
Great Valley Town CourtPO Box 172 Great Valley, NY 14741
Hinsdale Town CourtPO Box 95 Hinsdale, NY 14743
Humphrey Town Court4525 Pumpkin Hollow Road Great Valley, NY 14741
Ischua Town Court1850 Mill Street Ischua, NY 14743
Leon Town CourtPO Box 17 Town Hall Leon, NY 14751
Little Valley Town Court201 Third Street Little Valley, NY 14755
Lyndon Town Court852 Lyndon Center Road Cuba, NY 14727
Machias Town Court9588 Maple Avenue Town Hall Machias, NY 14101
Mansfield Town Court7660 Hollister Hill Little Valley, NY 14755
Napoli Town Court4672 Allegany Road Little Valley, NY 14755
New Albion Town Court14 Main Street Cattaraugus, NY 14719
Olean Town Court2634 Route 16N Town Hall Olean, NY 14760
Otto Town CourtOtto Maple Road Otto, NY 14766
Perrysburg Town Court10640 Peck Hill Road PO Box 244 Town Hall Perrysburg, NY 14129
Persia Town Court8 West Main Street Gowanda, NY 14070
Portville Town Court1102 Olean-Portville Road P.O. Box 630 Portville, NY 14770
Portville Village Court1 South Main Street PO Box 314 Portville, NY 14770
Randolph Town Court72 Main Street Randolph, NY 14772
Red House Town Court8619 Longto Hollow Road Salamanca, NY 14779
Salamanca Town CourtTown Hall Salamanca, NY 14779
South Dayton Village CourtPO Box 269 17 Park Street South Dayton, NY 14138
South Valley Town Court11888 Sawmill Run Road Frewsburg, NY 14738
Yorkshire Town Court82 Main Street Delevan, NY 14042
Is Cattaraugus County the right place to file my action?
The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).
How much does it cost to file a case?
In this County, the filing see is $10 (if the amount asked for is $1,000 or less) and $15 (if the claim exceeds $1,000).
What is mediation?
Mediation is one way the court offers to try and settle your case without a trial. Mediation is a confidential way to try and resolve the case. It involves a mediator who will try and bring the plaintiff and defendant together to agree on a result that is fair to all (or, more likely, somewhat fair to each party). In Cattaraugus County, the mediation provider is:
Center for Resolution and Justice
Child and Family Services
200 E. Third Street, 4th Floor