Niagara County Small Claims Court
Can I sue in small claims court?
The small claims court is available to any person who has reached the age of majority (18 years 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 entities can be sued in this 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).
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Niagara County?
Every town and village of Niagara County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Niagara County has 12 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Cambria Town, Hartland Town, Lewiston Town, Lockport Town, Newfane Town, Niagara Town, Pendleton Town, Porter Town, Royalton Town, Somerset Town, Wheatfield Town, and Wilson Town.
Here are the court locations:
Cambria Town Court4160 Upper Mountain Road Sanborn, NY 14132
Hartland Town Court8942 Ridge Road Gasport, NY 14067
Lewiston Town Court1375 Ridge Road Lewiston, NY 14092
Lockport Town Court6564 Dysinger Road Lockport, NY 14094
Newfane Town Court2896 Transit Road Newfane, NY 14108
Niagara Town Court7105 Lockport Road Niagara Falls, NY 14305
Pendleton Town Court6570 Campbell Boulevard Lockport, NY 14094
Porter Town Court3265 Creek Road Youngstown, NY 14174
Royalton Town Court5316 Royalton Center Road Middleport, NY 14105
Somerset Town Court8700 Haight Road Barker, NY 14012
Wheatfield Town Court2800 Church Road North Tonawanda, NY 14120
Wilson Town Court375 Lake Street PO Box 537 Wilson, NY 14172
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing?
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 the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court may grant a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presented. Note: Court rules require that the judge wait at least one hour before holding a hearing or entering a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
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). 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 can be slightly more difficult because you may not know the structure of the business. Contact the Niagara County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Hearing Day Procedures
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. When you arrive, look for the small claims court calendar (or the clerk). 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 your case is not listed on the calendar, speak with the court clerk (or judge if there is no clerk present). In some courtrooms, the clerk may check people in as they arrive. In others, you must wait until your case is called.
When your case is called, you may ask the court for a continuance or adjournment or any other request. If both parties are ready to proceed, the case will go forward.
Niagara County Small Claims Court
In Niagara County, small claims court cases are heard in the local town or village court. 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 your claim exceeds $3,000, you may not split them into two separate claims to bring it under the limit. The only form of relief you can sue for is monetary. You cannot ask the court to order a defendant to do something (like fix your property damage or fulfill the terms of a contract). 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.
Is Niagara 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.
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Niagara County?
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. The defendant must file an affidavit stating the issues of fact the jury is to decide. 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.
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Niagara County
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 Niagara County, the mediation provider is:
Center for Resolution and Justice
Child and Family Services
Bewley Building, Suite 518