Schenectady County Small Claims Court
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Schenectady County?
Each town and village has its own court to handle cases from there. Schenectady County has 6 locations to handle small claims court cases for the following villages and towns: Duanesburg Town, Glenville Town, Niskayuna Town, Princetown Town, Rotterdam Town, and Scotia Village.
The small claims court locations are:
Duanesburg Town Court5853 Western Turnpike Duanesburg, NY 12056
Glenville Town Court18 Glenridge Road Municipal Center Glenville, NY 12302
Niskayuna Town CourtOne Niskayuna Circle Town Hall Niskayuna, NY 12309
Princetown Town Court165 Princetown Plaza Schenectady, NY 12306
Rotterdam Town Court101 Princetown Road Schenectady, NY 12306
Scotia Village Court4 North Ten Broeck Street Scotia, NY 12302
Am I eligible to sue in small claims court?
Small clams court is open to any party who is a person 18 years of age or older. If someone is younger than 18, a parent or legal guardian is able to bring an action on behalf of the minor. 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). However, these entities are able to be sued in small claims court by people. 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 if a party fails to appear on the hearing date?
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. 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?
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). For businesses, it can be a little more tricky. The staff at the Schenectady County Clerk’s Office can help provide you with the proper business name (we recommend contacting them before you go to court so you do not worry about it once you are there).
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). 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). 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.
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). 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 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 will “give notice” to the defendant of the case which includes the statement of the case as you wrote it and the date and time of the hearing. This is called serving the defendant. The clerk sends the notice via certified and first-class mail. After twenty-one days, the defendant is served unless the first-class mail was returned as 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). 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. 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).
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Schenectady County?
Only a defendant can make the request for a jury trial. The demand must be made prior to the hearing. (The reason a plaintiff cannot demand a jury trial is because if the plaintiff files the case in small claims court the court deems the plaintiff consenting to have factual issues determined by the judge and not a jury, otherwise the case would be filed in the regular civil part). The defendant must file an affidavit stating the issues of fact the jury is to decide. The judge can either transfer the case to the regular civil part of the court (where regular evidentiary rules apply) or remain in small claims court. If it remains in small claims court, a jury will be used, but it will consist of only six members.
What are the filing costs for a case in Schenectady County?
In Schenectady 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).
Small Claims Court Lingo
Small Claims Court Lingo
The party is a person, business, or other entity involved in a court case (on either side of the “v.” in the case name). 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. In certain cases, a third party (ie. not the plaintiff or defendant) is brought into a case (usually by a defendant who feels the third party is partly responsible for the damage to plaintiff). If you are interested in filing a third party claim (as a defendant), contact the local clerk for the filing fees and local procedures.
Are there appeals in small claims court cases?
The window for filing an appeal is thirty days from the judgment (or thirty-five if you received the judgment in the mail). Appeals require additional fees to be filed. You must also determine if a transcript needs to be ordered. The small claims court clerk has specific information regarding fees associated with appeals. 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.
Is Schenectady County the right place to file my action?
The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).
What are Schenectady County Small Claims Court cases?
The local town or village court hears small claims court cases in Schenectady County. 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 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 ask the court to order a defendant to do something (like fix your property damage or fulfill the terms of a contract). Money is the only remedy available (on claims and counterclaims). 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.
Can I ask for a continuance?
In small claims court cases, a continuance can also be 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. A party can ask for a continuance by requesting one through the mail. You should also send a copy of the request to all the other parties in the case. 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 do I 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.
What is arbitration?
Abitration is a type of dispute resolution that is less-formal than a trial, but more formal than mediation. 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 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). The arbitrator uses the exact same law the judge would follow. An arbitrator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. In fact, the rules and procedures are designed to be informal so that you should not have to retain an attorney. A plaintiff or defendant can choose to hire an attorney if he or she chooses. If attorneys are representing parties on both sides of the v, (plaintiff and defendant), the court may transfer the case to the regular civil part.
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 Schenectady County, the mediation provider is: