Monroe County Small Claims Court
How do I find the correct name for the Defendant?
For people, you will want the person’s first and last name (their real name, and not a nickname they go by). 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 Monroe County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Small Claims Court Cases in Monroe County
The local town or village court hears small claims court cases in Monroe County. The limit a plaintiff can ask for is $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. The only form of relief you can sue for 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.
What is arbitration?
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. Arbitration will only be used if both parties agree (because it is binding). Additionally, you will likely be able to have your case decided faster than if you wait to have a judge hear it. Arbitrators use the same law as the small claims court judge. An arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Are continuances allowed in small claims court?
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 give you a continuance (even if you have talked to the other party and agreed to a later date). 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.
How a Small Claims Court Case Begins
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. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the case. The statement is a fancy way of asking what your case is about. This should be brief and include all important facts. You may be entitled to interest if the basis for your case is property damage or based on a contract. 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 date and time of the hearing will be provided to you by the clerk. 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 clerk will provide ths notice through mail–both certified and first-class. Once 21 days have passed, the defendant is deemed “served” unless the first-class item was returned undeliverable. If a defendant cannot be served by mail, then the clerk will provide you with instructions on how the defendant can be personally served. The court (via the clerk or judge) will likely 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. 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).
Should I use mediation for my small claims case?
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 Monroe County, mediation services are provided by:
Center for Dispute Settlement, Inc.
Reynolds Arcade Building
16 E Main Street, Suite 800