Oneida County Small Claims Court
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). Visit the court for that town or village, and the court will provide you with the paperwork to begin the action. One section of the form 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 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 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 provides the defendant with the statement of the claim and the date and time of the hearing (this is called “service”). The notice is sent by certified mail and first-class mail. Once 21 days have passed, the defendant is deemed “served” unless the first-class item was returned 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). 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.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You do not have to hire an attorney to represent you in small claims court (even if you are a business). 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. If there are attorneys representing both parties, the case may be transferred to the regular civil part of the court.
What is the correct name for the defendant?
If the defendant is a person, your job is pretty easy. Use the first and last name of the defendant (do not use their 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 are more tricky because sometimes you do not know how the business is structured. If you contact the Oneida County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.
Small Claims Court Appeals for Oneida County Cases
A party has 30 days from the date of the judgment to file a notice of appeal (or 35 days if you were mailed the court’s judgment). There are fees for filing a notice of appeal as well as additional costs for purchasing a transcript (if a court reporter was present). The small claims court clerk has specific information regarding fees associated with appeals. An appellate court will only reverse a small claims court judgment if the ruling meets the “clearly erroneous” standard. This is why we recommend consulting an attorney to determine if an appeal is appropriate.
What do I do on the hearing date?
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. When you arrive, you should look for the small claims court calendar or for a clerk to assist you. 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, 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.
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 younger than 18, your parent or legal guardian is able to sue on your behalf. Corporate entities, partnerships, and other entities cannot file in small claims court. Their actions must be filed in Commercial Claims Court. These entities can only act as defendants in small claims court. These entities can be sued in this court. When a business, corporation, or other entity is sued, the entity is able to authorize a person (usually an employee, director, or attorney) to appear on its behalf.
Can I ask for a continuance?
The court may call a continuance an adjournment. The court generally discourages continuances in the interest of resolving disputes quickly and inexpensively. Only the court can grant a continuance. 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. 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).
Jury Trials in Small Claims Court
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 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 it remains in small claims court, a jury will be used, but it will consist of only six members.
Small Claims Court Locations in Oneida County
Every town and village of Oneida County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Oneida County has 35 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Annsville Town, Augusta Town, Ava Town, Boonville Town, Boonville Village, Bridgewater Town, Camden Town, Deerfield Town, Florence Town, Floyd Town, Forestport Town, Kirkland Town, Lee Town, Marcy Town, Marshall Town, New Hartford Town, New Hartford Village, New York Mills Village, Oriskany Village, Paris Town, Remsen Town, Sangerfield Town, Steuben Town, Sylvan Beach Village, Trenton Town, Vernon Town, Vernon Village, Verona Town, Vienna Town, Waterville Village, Western Town, Westmoreland Town, Whitesboro Village, Whitestown Town, and Yorkville Village.
The small claims court locations are:
Annsville Town CourtPO Box 61 Taberg, NY 13471
Augusta Town Court185 Main Street PO Box 671 Oriskany Falls, NY 13425
Ava Town CourtRoute 26 PO Box 94 Ava, NY 13303
Boonville Town Court13149 State Route 12 Boonville, NY 13309
Boonville Village Court13149 State Route 12 Boonville, NY 13309
Bridgewater Town CourtRoute 8 Municipal Building Bridgewater, NY 13313
Camden Town Court14 Church Street Town Hall Camden, NY 13316
Deerfield Town Court6329 Walker Road Utica, NY 13502
Florence Town CourtMain Street Florence, NY 13316
Floyd Town Court8299 Old Floyd Road Rome, NY 13440
Forestport Town Court12012 Woodhull Road Forestport, NY 13338
Kirkland Town CourtPO Box 87 Town Hall Franklin Springs, NY 13341
Lee Town Court5808 Stokes Lee Center Road Lee Center, NY 13363
Marcy Town Court8801 Paul Becker Road Marcy, NY 13403
Marshall Town CourtPO Box 26 Deansboro, NY 13328
New Hartford Town Court30 Kellogg Road New Hartford, NY 13413
New Hartford Village Court30 Kellogg Road New Hartford, NY 13413
New York Mills Village Court1 Maple Street New York Mills, NY 13417
Oriskany Village CourtPO Box 904 Oriskany, NY 13424
Paris Town Court2580 Sulphur Springs Rd Sauquoit, NY 13456
Remsen Town Court10540 Academy Lane PO Box 308 Remsen, NY 13438
Sangerfield Town CourtPO Box 34 Sangerfield, NY 13455
Steuben Town Court9458 Soule Road Remsen, NY 13438
Sylvan Beach Village CourtMarina & Harborview PO Box 580 Sylvan Beach, NY 13157
Trenton Town Court8520 Old Poland Road PO Box 521 Barneveld, NY 13304
Vernon Town Court4305 Peterboro Road P.O. Box 643 Vernon, NY 13476
Vernon Village Court8 Ruth Street P. O. Box 1137 Vernon, NY 13476
Verona Town Court6600 Germany Road Municipal Building Durhamville, NY 13054
Vienna Town CourtPO Box 376 North Bay, NY 13123
Waterville Village Court122 S Stafford Ave. Waterville, NY 13480
Western Town Court9219 Main Street PO Box 248 Westernville, NY 13486
Westmoreland Town CourtPO Box 238 Westmoreland, NY 13490
Whitesboro Village Court8 Park Avenue Whitesboro, NY 13492
Whitestown Town Court1 Championship Way Whitestown Community Center Complex PO Box 112 Whitesboro, NY 13492
Yorkville Village Court30 Sixth Street P.O. Box 203 Yorkville, NY 13495
Can 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.
Is Oneida 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.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing date for my small claims court case in Oneida County?
If you are the plaintiff, your case is dismissed. 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.
Arbitration of Small Claims Court Cases in Oneida County
Abitration is a type of dispute resolution that is less-formal than a trial, but more formal than mediation. In arbitration, a person (called an arbitrator who is usually an attorney) will hear evidence of the case that each party presents. The arbitrator will then weigh the evidence with the law and issue a final judgment. 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. When an arbitrator decides your case, the decision is final. There is no appeal-by either party.
Should I use mediation for my small claims case?
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 Oneida County, the mediation provider is:
The Peacemaker Program, Inc.
502 Court Street, Suite 234