Rensselaer County Small Claims Court

Rensselaer County Small Claims Court

How do I find 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. You should also be able to provide the address of the defendant. For businesses, it can be a little more tricky. If you contact the Rensselaer County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.

What are Rensselaer County Small Claims Court cases?

Rensselaer County Small Claims Court

Rensselaer County Small Claims Court

In Rensselaer 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 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. A party cannot sue to ask the court to order a defendant to take action (ie. fulfill the terms of an advertisement). 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.

Hearing Day Procedures

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). Cases are listed on the calendar by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or full name of the business or other entity). 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 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.

How do I counterclaim against the plaintiff?

As a defendant, you can file a counterclaim against the plaintiff (in which you assert that plaintiff owes you money). The counterclaim needs to be filed within five days of your notice of the case, or the court may continue the hearing to a later date. The filing fee for a counterclaim is $3.00. If the counterclaim is filed after the five days, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (and sometimes the court may continue the hearing out even without the plaintiff asking).

Can I ask for a continuance?

In County, a continuance in a Small Claims Court action is called 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. 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).

What are the filing costs for a case in Rensselaer County?

In Rensselaer County, the fee to file a Small Claims Court case is $10 (if your claim amount is $1,000 or less) or $15 (if the claim is for more than $1000.00).

What is mediation?

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 Rensselaer County, the mediation provider is:

Mediation Matters
10 Russell Road, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12206
(518) 446-0356
If mediation is not successful, the case remains in small claims court (with a trial). There is usually no charge for mediation (but there may be a small filing fee).

What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing?

If you are the plaintiff, your case is dismissed. If you are the defendant, the court may grant a default judgment in your absence. The Court will wait approximately one hour (in case you are simply running late) before granting a default judgment.

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). A defendant is the person or entity being sued (person who owes money). 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. If you are interested in filing a third party claim (as a defendant), contact the local clerk for the filing fees and local procedures.

Can I file my small claims case in County?

The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).

Are there appeals in small claims court cases?

The deadline for appealing a small claims court judgment is 30 days (if you receive the judgment in court or have been personally delivered the judgment) or 35 days after the court or other party mails you the judgment. Appeals require additional fees to be filed. You must also determine if a transcript needs to be ordered. If you are interested in filing an appeal, check with the clerk of your specific court for the procedures and filing fees. A court will only overturn a judgment if it is “clearly erroneous.” Some people find it useful to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to file an appeal.

Do I get a jury trial 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. An affidavit (sworn statement) has to be filed which identifies the factual issues a jury is needed to hear. 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.

Can I hire an attorney to represent me in small claims court?

You do not have to hire an attorney to represent you in small claims court (even if you are a business). Small claims court rules and procedures are designed so that an attorney is not needed in order for a party to be adequately represented. 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.

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 is a fancy way of asking what your case is about. This should be brief and include all 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). 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 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 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. 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. If service has not been completed within four months of filing, the claim will be dismissed. The case will be dismissed without prejudice which means you can refile with the same court if you learn the defendant is still residing in that location (otherwise, if the defendant moved, you would file it in the court of the new town or village).

Small Claims Court Locations in Rensselaer County

Each village or town has in Rensselaer County has its own court to handle cases arising at that town or village. In Rensselaer County, there are [COURTSNUM] separate courts for the following villages or towns:Berlin Town, Brunswick Town, Castleton-On-Hudson Village, East Greenbush Town, Grafton Town, Hoosick Falls Village, Hoosick Town, Nassau Town, Nassau Village, North Greenbush Town, Petersburg Town, Pittstown Town, Poestenkill Town, Sand Lake Town, Schaghticoke Town, Schodack Town, and Stephentown Town.

Here are the court locations:

Berlin Town Court

Main Street
Town Hall
Berlin, NY 12022

Brunswick Town Court

336 Town Office Road
Brunswick, NY 12180

Castleton-On-Hudson Village Court

85 South Main Street
Castleton, NY 12033

East Greenbush Town Court

225 Columbia Turnpike
Rensselaer, NY 12144

Grafton Town Court

PO Box 1
Grafton, NY 12082

Hoosick Falls Village Court

24 Main Street
PO Box 203
Hoosick Falls, NY 12090

Hoosick Town Court

80 Church Street
PO Box 17
Hoosick Falls, NY 12090

Nassau Town Court

29 Church Street
PO Box 587
Nassau, NY 12123

Nassau Village Court

40 Malden Street
PO Box 452
Nassau, NY 12123

North Greenbush Town Court

2 Douglas Street
Wynantskill, NY 12198

Petersburg Town Court

PO Box 233, 65 Main St
Town Hall
Petersburg, NY 12138

Pittstown Town Court

123 Tomhannock Road
Valley Falls, NY 12185

Poestenkill Town Court

PO Box 164
Poestenkill, NY 12140

Sand Lake Town Court

PO Box 273
Town Hall
Sand Lake, NY 12153

Schaghticoke Town Court

290 Northline Drive
Melrose, NY 12121

Schodack Town Court

265 Schuurman Road
Castleton, NY 12033

Stephentown Town Court

Grange Hall Road
PO Box 268
Stephentown, NY 12168

Arbitration of Small Claims Court Cases in Rensselaer County

Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that is binding. At an arbitration, an arbitrator (who is usually, but not always, an experienced attorney) will allow each side to present their case. He or she will then weigh the evidence and issue a final judgment. 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.

Am I eligible to 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 someone is younger than 18, a parent or legal guardian is able to bring an action on behalf of the minor. 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 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.

One comment

  1. Janet Smith says:

    I’m trying to file a commercial small claim against a company in Troy, NY. My business is in Rensselaer, NY. Where do I physically go to file my complaint?

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