Genesee County Small Claims Court
How a Small Claims Court Case Begins
The case has to be filed at the court location. The court will provide you with the necessary forms to be filled out. The forms will ask for a statement of your case. The statement should be brief and include a description of the incident that is the basis of your claim. You should include all important names and dates. You should note in the statement of the case if you are requesting interest (which happens if your case concerns property damage or a contract specifies an interest amount). Most small claims courts have clerks who can assist with questions you have concerning the paperwork. If the court is small and does not have a clerk, a judge will usually fill this role.
The clerk will provide the time and date for the small claims court hearing. 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. After twenty-one days, the defendant is served unless the first-class mail was returned as undeliverable. 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 claim will be dismissed after four months if the defendant has not been served. 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).
Jury Trials in Small Claims Court
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 determine if the case should 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.
How do I file a counterclaim against the plaintiff?
A defendant can file a counterclaim against a plaintiff. The counterclaim must be filed within five days of receiving the notice of claim. The cost to file a counterclaim is $3. The counterclaim must be for money and cannot be for more than $3,000. Note: you can still file your claim after the five day window, but the judge then has the option of pushing back the hearing date (but no longer than twenty days). As the plaintiff, you have a right to ask for a continuance in this case.
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Genesee 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 Genesee County, mediation services are provided by:
Center for Resolution and Justice
Child and Family Services
Genesee County Courts Building
One West Main Street
Batavia, NY 14020
(585) 344-2580, ext. 2440
If mediation is not successful, the case remains in small claims court (with a trial). There may be a small filing fee for mediations.
Can I hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. The procedures and rules for small claims court are actually designed to be simple and informal so that a party does not have to hire an attorney and should be able to represent themselves. A party does have a right to retain an attorney if he, she, or it wishes. Sometimes, when a plaintiff and a defendant have both retained attorneys, the court can transfer the case from small claims to the regular civil part.
Should I use arbitration for my small claims court case?
Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that is binding. 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. If both parties agree to arbitration, an arbitrator will often be able to hear a claim before a judge would (because there are more arbitrators than judges). Arbitrators use the same law as the small claims court judge. When an arbitrator decides your case, the decision is final. There is no appeal-by either party.
What do I do on the hearing date?
You should arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the time designated for your hearing. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). On the calendar, cases are listed by the last name of the plaintiff and then the defendant (or name of the business). If your case is not listed on the calendar, speak with the court clerk (or judge if there is no clerk present). Some courtrooms have the parties check in as they arrive. In others, the parties only check in when their 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.
Is Genesee County the right place to file my action?
You must bring your action in the municipality (location – village or town) in which the person or business you are suing resides (lives) or has an office open for business.
Small Claims Court Terms
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). The defendant is the party who is being sued. Sometimes, a third party (not the plaintiff or defendant) is brought into the case where a defendant files a third party claim asserting that another party is responsible for plaintiff’s damages. 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.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing date for my small claims court case in Genesee County?
If you are the plaintiff and fail to show up to court on the date of your case, the court will dismiss the case. If you are the defendant and fail to show up to court, the court will enter a ruling based only on the evidence presented by the plaintiff. This could result in a “default” judgment taken against the defendant. The Court will wait approximately one hour (in case you are simply running late) before granting a default judgment.
How much does it cost to file a case in Genesee County?
In Genesee County, the filing fee is $10, if you are asking for $1,000 or less, and $15, if the amount is more than that.
What are Genesee County Small Claims Court cases?
In Genesee County, small claims court cases are heard in the local town or village court. In small claims court, individuals can sue for up to $3,000. These cases are designed to be resolved informally (so a party does not have to hire an attorney). If you do have a claim for more than $3,000.00, you cannot file two separate actions to bring it under the limit. A claimant or plantiff can only seek monetary relief in small claims court. You cannot sue someone to force a person or business to perform a task (like fix a car) or return a personal item. You can only sue to recover money. You are also able to sue a municipality (city, village, town, or county) and other public agencies, but the law requires you to give notice before you sue them. Notice must be given within 90 days of the incident which gives rise to your case. If you do not provide notice within this window, your case will be dismissed.
Genesee County Small Claims Court Locations
Each town and village has its own court to handle cases from there. Genesee County Small Claims Cases are handled in 16 locations for the following towns and villages: Alabama Town, Alexander Town, Alexander Village, Batavia Town, Bergen Town, Bethany Town, Byron Town, Corfu Village, Darien Town, Elba Town, Leroy Town, Leroy Village, Oakfield Town, Pavilion Town, Pembroke Town, and Stafford Town.
The small claims court locations are:
Alabama Town CourtPO Box 476 Alabama, NY 14013
Alexander Town CourtPO Box 248 Alexander, NY 14005
Alexander Village Court9926 Creek Road FORMER COURT FACILITY Batavia, NY 14020
Batavia Town Court3833 West Main Street Road Batavia, NY 14020
Bergen Town Court10 Hunter Street P.O. Box 249 Bergen, NY 14416
Bethany Town Court10510 Bethany Center Road East Bethany, NY 14054
Byron Town Court7028 Byron Holley Road Byron, NY 14422
Corfu Village Court116 East Main Street PO Box 52 Corfu, NY 14036
Darien Town Court10569 Alleghany Rd Darien Center, NY 14040
Elba Town Court7 Maple Avenue PO Box 295 Elba, NY 14058
Leroy Town Court48 Main Street Leroy, NY 14482
Leroy Village Court48 Main Street FORMER COURT FACILITY Leroy, NY 14482
Oakfield Town Court3219 Drake Street Road Oakfield, NY 14125
Pavilion Town Court1 Woodrow Drive PO Box 126 Pavilion, NY 14525
Pembroke Town Court116 East Main Street Corfu, NY 14036
Stafford Town Court8903 Route 237 Stafford, NY 14143
How do I get a continuance?
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 give you a continuance (even if you have talked to the other party and agreed to a later date). A party can ask for a continuance by requesting one through the mail. You should also send a copy of the request to all the other parties in the case. A party may also request a continuance on the actual hearing date, but a judge may be inclined to deny this request (and you should be prepared to go forward if the judge does not grant one).
Are there appeals in small claims court cases?
The window for filing an appeal is thirty days from the judgment (or thirty-five if you received the judgment in the mail). There are fees for filing a notice of appeal as well as additional costs for purchasing a transcript (if a court reporter was present). Consult with an attorney when you are deciding if you should file an appeal. A court will only overturn a judgment if it is “clearly erroneous.” Some parties benefit from consulting with an attorney prior to filing an appeal (to determine if it is even worthwhile).
How do I find the correct name of the defendant?
For people, you will want the person’s first and last name (their real name, and not a nickname they go by). You will also have to provide their address. You should make it a habit to collect this information from all people you deal with. Businesses are more tricky because sometimes you do not know how the business is structured. Contact the Genesee County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Am I eligible 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 younger than 18, your parent or legal guardian is able to sue on your behalf. Corporations, partnerships, and other corporate entities must bring their action in Commercial Claims Court and are not able to act as plaintiffs in small claims court. These corporate entities are able to be sued in small claims court. When a corporate entity is sued, it can authorize an employee, director, or attorney to appear and defend it in court.