Franklin County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court Lingo
The party is a person, business, or other entity involved in a court case (on either side of the “v.” in the case name). The plaintiff (sometimes referred to as a claimant) is the person (or entity) that begins the lawsuit (by a filing at the courthouse). 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.
Small Claims Court Locations in Franklin County
Every town and village of Franklin County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Franklin County Small Claims Cases are handled in 22 locations for the following towns and villages: Bangor Town, Bellmont Town, Bombay Town, Brandon Town, Brighton Town, Burke Town, Chateaugay Town, Constable Town, Dickinson Town, Duane Town, Fort Covington Town, Franklin Town, Harrietstown Town, Malone Town, Malone Village, Moira Town, Santa Clara Town, Saranac Lake Village, Tupper Lake Town, Tupper Lake Village, Waverly Town, and Westville Town.
Here are the court locations:
Bangor Town CourtP.O. Box 337 North Bangor, NY 12966
Bellmont Town CourtPO Box 9 Brainardsville, NY 12915
Bombay Town Court379 Lantry Road P.O. Box 208 Bombay, NY 12914
Brandon Town Court203 County Route 13 North Bangor, NY 12966
Brighton Town Court12 Cty Rd 31 P.O. Box 260 Paul Smiths, NY 12970
Burke Town Court82 Depot Street Town Hall P.O. Box 157 Burke, NY 12917
Chateaugay Town Court45 East Main Street Chateaugay, NY 12920
Constable Town CourtTown Hall Constable, NY 12926
Dickinson Town CourtPO Box 83 Dickinson Center, NY 12930
Duane Town CourtDuane Fire Station HCR 01 Malone, NY 12953
Fort Covington Town Court2510 Chateaugay Street Fort Covington, NY 12937
Franklin Town CourtPO Box 62 Vermontville, NY 12989
Harrietstown Town Court39 Main Street Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Malone Town CourtRR #4 PO Box 23 Malone Dufort Arpt. Malone, NY 12953
Malone Village Court27 Airport Road Village Court Malone, NY 12953
Moira Town CourtPO Box 150 Moira, NY 12957
Santa Clara Town Court5359 State Route 30 Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Saranac Lake Village Court39 Main Street Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Tupper Lake Town Court120 Demars Boulevard Tupper Lake, NY 12986
Tupper Lake Village Court53 Park Street PO Box 1290 Tupper Lake, NY 12986
Waverly Town CourtTown Hall St. Regis Falls, NY 12980
Westville Town CourtJewett Road Town Hall Westvlle/constable, NY 12926
What are Franklin County Small Claims Court cases?
In Franklin County, small claims court cases are heard in the local town or village court. One can sue for $3,000.00 or less in a town or village court in Franklin County. These cases are designed to be resolved informally (so a party does not have to hire an attorney). If your claim exceeds $3,000, you may not split them into two separate claims to bring it 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. A party can only sue for monetary relief. A party may sue a municipality or other public entity. The law requires you to file a claim with that entity within 90 days of the incident which gives rise to your claim. If you do not do this, your case can be dismissed.
Is Franklin County the right place to file my action?
A plaintiff has to bring the action in the village or town in which the defendant resides or a business has an open office.
Arbitration of Small Claims Court Cases in Franklin County
Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution that is like a less-formal trial. In arbitration, an arbitrator, who is often an experienced attorney, hears arguments, weighs evidence, and issues a final judgment on the merits of a claim. Arbitration can only be used when all parties agree (as the outcome is binding on all parties). If you do choose arbitration, your case can be heard far quicker than waiting for a judge to hear it (which is something to keep in mind if you want a quick resolution to your case). Arbitrators use the same law as the small claims court judge. An arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Franklin County?
Only the defendant can demand a jury trial in small claims court cases. This demand can be made at any time prior to the hearing date. The defendant has to fill out, under oath, a statement identifying which issues the jury will consider. 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 small claims court, only six jurors are used.
What is the correct name for the defendant?
If the defendant is a person, you should use the first and last name of the defendant and not a nickname. The court will also ask for the address of the defendant (to send the notice of the small claims court case and hearing). Businesses can be slightly more difficult because you may not know the structure of the business. Contact the Franklin County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Are continuances allowed in small claims court?
The court may call a continuance an adjournment. These are discouraged in small claims court cases because the purpose of small claims court is a quick, inexpensive resolution of disputes. Only the court can grant a continuance. If you want a continuance, you can ask the court through mail. You should send a copy of the request to all the parties involved in the case as well. You can also ask for a continuance on the hearing date, but you need to be prepared in case the court refuses your request.
Can I sue in small claims court?
In order to file an action, you must be 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). However, these entities are able to be sued in small claims court by people. When a corporate entity is sued, it can authorize an employee, director, or attorney to appear and defend it in court.
How a Small Claims Court Case Begins
The case has to be filed at the court location. Visit the court for that town or village, and the court will provide you with the paperwork to begin the action. These forms will ask for a statement of the 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. You may be entitled to interest if the basis for your case is property damage or based on a contract. A court will generally have a clerk who is available to assist with questions regarding the forms (and answer other questions). If a court does not have a clerk, generally the judge is available to help you with these questions.
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 “serve” the notice of claim by mailing it to the defendant (this is what part of your filing fee funds). This notice informs a defendant the time and location of the hearing and states the reason for the claim being made by plaintiff. The notice is sent by certified mail 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). For purposes of due process (which is a fancy way of saying fairness), the hearing cannot occur until after the defendant has been properly served with notice of the plaintiff’s claim. 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).
Can I hire an attorney?
You do not have to hire an attorney to represent you in small claims court (even if you are a business). In fact, the rules and procedures are designed to be informal so that you should not have to retain an attorney. A party does have a right to retain an attorney if he, she, or it wishes. 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.
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).
Hearing Day Procedures
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). The calendar will list the cases that will be heard that day. They will be listed by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or business name). If you are unable to find your case on the calendar, you should contact the court clerk (or judge if there is no court clerk). In some courtrooms, the clerk may check people in as they arrive. In others, you must wait until your case is called.
When the judge or clerk calls your case, you should be prepared to tell the judge if you are ready for the case to proceed, ask for a continuance if you want one (and be ready to state a good reason for one), or any other request you may need to make. If both parties are ready, the case will proceed.
Should I use mediation for my small claims case?
Mediation is a confidential, non-binding dispute resolution program in which an impartial mediator attempts to bring both parties together to a mutually acceptable outcome. A judge may refer a case to mediation if both parties agree. In Franklin County, the program used for mediation is:
North Country Conflict Resolution Services
Rural Law Center of New York, Inc.
Akwesasne Business Center, Suite 200