Chemung County Small Claims Court
Can I file my small claims case in Chemung?
The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).
Can I file a counterclaim against the Plaintiff?
As a defendant, you can file a counterclaim against the plaintiff (in which you assert that plaintiff owes you money). The counterclaim needs to be filed within five days of your notice of the case, or the court may continue the hearing to a later date. The filing fee for a counterclaim is $3.00. If the counterclaim is filed after the five days, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (and sometimes the court may continue the hearing out even without the plaintiff asking).
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Chemung County?
Every town and village of Chemung County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Chemung County has 14 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Ashland Town, Baldwin Town, Big Flats Town, Catlin Town, Chemung Town, Elmira Heights Village, Elmira Town, Erin Town, Horseheads Town, Horseheads Village, Southport Town, Van Etten Town, Veteran Town, and Wellsburg Village.
The small claims court locations are:
Ashland Town Court3663 Sixth Street Wellsburg, NY 14894
Baldwin Town Court622 Breesport N. Chemung Road Lowman, NY 14861
Big Flats Town Court476 Maple Street P.O. Box 449 Big Flats, NY 14814
Catlin Town Court1448 Chambers Road Beaver Dams, NY 14812
Chemung Town Court48 Rotary Road Extension Chemung, NY 14825
Elmira Heights Village Court215 Elmwood Avenue Village Hall Elmira Heights, NY 14903
Elmira Town Court1255 West Water Street Elmira, NY 14905
Erin Town Court1138 Breesport Road Erin, NY 14838
Horseheads Town Court150 Wygant Road Horseheads, NY 14845
Horseheads Village Court202 South Main Street Horseheads, NY 14845
Southport Town Court1139 Pennsylvania Ave Elmira, NY 14904
Van Etten Town Court83 Main Street P.O. Box 177 Van Etten, NY 14889
Veteran Town Court4049 Watkins Road Millport, NY 14864
Wellsburg Village Court3663 6th Street Wellsburg, NY 14894
Can I hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. Small claims court rules and procedures are designed so that an attorney is not needed in order for a party to be adequately represented. A plaintiff or defendant can choose to hire an attorney if he or she chooses. If there are attorneys representing both parties, the case may be transferred to the regular civil part of the court.
Can I ask for a continuance?
Beginning 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). The court will provide you with the necessary forms to be filled out. The forms will ask for a statement of your case. This is the term the court uses to ask what your case is about. Your statement of the case should be concise but still include all the 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 will “give notice” to the defendant of the case which includes the statement of the case as you wrote it and the date and time of the hearing. This is called serving the defendant. The clerk will provide ths notice through mail–both certified and first-class. 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). Pursuant to due process, a hearing cannot occur until the defendant has been served. The court will dismiss the case if the defendant cannot be served within four months. Dismissal is without prejudice meaning you can refile if you learn new information that the defendant is still residing in that village or town.
What are the fancy terms used in these cases?
A party is a person (or entity) on either side of the “v.” (plaintiff and defendant are each parties to the case). A “plaintiff” or “claimant” is the party who brings or initiates the action in Small Claims Court. A “defendant” is the party that is being sued. In certain cases, a third party (ie. not the plaintiff or defendant) is brought into a case (usually by a defendant who feels the third party is partly responsible for the damage to plaintiff). A defendant who is interested in filing a third party action should contact the clerk of the local court for the property procedures and filing fees.
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Chemung County
Mediation is an attempt to settle your case without a trial. It is a consifential way to resolve the case. Mediation involved a person acting as a mediator who will try and bring opposing parties to an agreement that all the parties can agree to. In Chemung County, mediation services are provided by:
Community Dispute Resolution Center, Inc.
215 East Church St., Suite 205