Saratoga County Small Claims Court
Can I hire an attorney to represent me in small claims court?
In small claims court cases heard in the village or town courts, you are not required to hire an attorney. Small claims court rules and procedures are designed so that an attorney is not needed in order for a party to be adequately represented. That said, you may choose to hire an attorney to represent you. If there are attorneys representing both parties, the case may be transferred to the regular civil part of the court.
Small Claims Court Appeals for Saratoga 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). Appeals require additional fees to be filed. You must also determine if a transcript needs to be ordered. Consult with an attorney when you are deciding if you should file an appeal. Remember, an appellate court will only overturn a judgment if the ruling is “clearly erroneous.” This is why we recommend consulting an attorney to determine if an appeal is appropriate.
What happens if a party fails to appear on the hearing date?
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.
Small Claims Court Locations in Saratoga County
Every town and village of Saratoga County has its own small claims court to handle cases arising in that location. Saratoga County Small Claims Cases are handled in 21 locations for the following towns and villages: Ballston Spa Village, Ballston Town, Charlton Town, Clifton Park Town, Corinth Town, Day Town, Edinburg Town, Galway Town, Galway Village, Greenfield Town, Hadley Town, Halfmoon Town, Malta Town, Milton Town, Moreau Town, Northumberland Town, Providence Town, Saratoga Town, Stillwater Town, Waterford Town, and Wilton Town.
The locations for the courts are:
Ballston Spa Village Court30 Bath Street Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Ballston Town Court323 Charlton Rd Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Charlton Town Court758 Charlton Road Charlton, NY 12019
Clifton Park Town Court5 Municipal Plaza Public Safety Building Clifton Park, NY 12065
Corinth Town Court600 Palmer Avenue Corinth, NY 12822
Day Town Court1650 North Shore Road Hadley, NY 12835
Edinburg Town Court47 Military Road Edinburg, NY 12134
Galway Town CourtPO Box 219 Galway, NY 12074
Galway Village Court5910 Sacandaga Road PO Box 219 Galway, NY 12074
Greenfield Town CourtPO Box 10 Greenfield Center, NY 12833
Hadley Town CourtPO Box 323 Town Hall Hadley, NY 12835
Halfmoon Town Court111 Route 236 Halfmoon, NY 12065
Malta Town Court2538 Route 9 Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Milton Town Court345 Rowland Street Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Moreau Town Court1390 Route 9 Gansevoort, NY 12831
Northumberland Town Court17 Catherine Street P.O. Box 128 Gansevoort, NY 12831
Providence Town Court7187 Barkersville Road Middle Grove, NY 12850
Saratoga Town Court12 Spring Street Schuylerville, NY 12871
Stillwater Town Court66 East Street Mechanicville, NY 12118
Waterford Town Court65 Broad Street Waterford, NY 12188
Wilton Town Court20 Traver Road Gansevoort, NY 12831
Do I get a jury trial 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. 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.
Am I able to sue in small claims court?
In order to file an action, you must be 18 years of age or older. If you are a younger than 18, the parent or guardian may bring the action 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. 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).
What happens on day of the hearing?
We recommend arriving at least fifteen minutes prior so you can have time to check in and make sure you are at the right place. When you arrive, look for the small claims court calendar (or the clerk). On the calendar, cases are listed by the last name of the plaintiff and then the defendant (or name of the business). If you cannot find your case, you should contact the clerk (or judge if there is no clerk). Courtrooms have different procedures. In some courtrooms, the clerk checks in parties as they arrive. Some courts simply have you 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.
What are the fancy terms used in these cases?
A party is a person (or entity) on either side of the “v.” (plaintiff and defendant are each parties to the case). A “plaintiff” or “claimant” is the party who brings or initiates the action in Small Claims Court. 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.
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. A defendant can file a counterclaim after the five day window, however, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (to allow the plaintiff to prepare to respond to the counterclaim) or the court may set a later hearing date on its own.
Arbitration of Small Claims Court Cases in Saratoga County
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). The arbitrator uses the exact same law the judge would follow. The final judgment issued by the arbitrator cannot be appealed by any party.
Is Saratoga 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.
Saratoga County Small Claims Court
The local town or village court hears small claims court cases in Saratoga County. The limit a plaintiff can ask for is $3,000. The purpose of small claims court and the motivation behind the relaxed evidentiary rules and procedures is to allow these cases to be resolved informally and without making a party hire an attorney. Note: If you have a claim for more than $3,000, you cannot separate it into two claims to be under the limit. The only relief available in small claims court cases 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. Money is the only remedy available (on claims and counterclaims). 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.
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Saratoga County
Mediation is a confidential, non-binding dispute resolution program in which an impartial mediator attempts to bring both parties together to a mutually acceptable outcome. A judge may refer a case to mediation if both parties agree. In Saratoga County, the program used for mediation is:
480 Broadway, LL-32
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
If a case cannot be settled at mediation, the case remains with the small claims court (and proceeds to trial). Some jurisdictions may charge a small filing fee.
Beginning a Small Claims Court Case
You must go to the Small Claims Court to file your case. 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 clerk will provide ths notice through mail–both certified and first-class. After twenty-one days, the defendant is served unless the first-class mail was returned as undeliverable. If the post office cannot deliver notice of the claim and you believe the person still resides in that village or town, the court (clerk) will give you a new hearing date and will instruct you on how to personally serve the defendant. 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. 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).
How much does it cost to file a case?
In this County, the filing see is $10 (if the amount asked for is $1,000 or less) and $15 (if the claim exceeds $1,000).
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 are more tricky because sometimes you do not know how the business is structured. Contact the Saratoga County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Can I ask for a continuance?
The court may call a continuance an adjournment. These are discouraged as the purpose of small claims court is a quick, efficient way of resolving disputes. The only person with the power to move the hearing date is the court (even if both parties agree). If you want a continuance, you can ask the court through mail. You should send a copy of the request to all the parties involved in the case as well. You can also ask for a continuance on the hearing date, but you need to be prepared in case the court refuses your request.