Schuyler County Small Claims Court
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.
What is arbitration?
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. 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. The arbitrator applies the same law to your case that the judge would. The final judgment issued by the arbitrator cannot be appealed by any party.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
In small claims court cases heard in the village or town courts, you are not required to hire an attorney. 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.
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. The defendant has to fill out, under oath, a statement identifying which issues the jury will consider. The judge will then decide whether the case will 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.
What are the filing costs for a case in Schuyler County?
In Schuyler County, the filing fee is $10, if you are asking for $1,000 or less, and $15, if the amount is more than that.
Is Schuyler County the right place to file my action?
Is Schuyler 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).
Are continuances allowed in small claims court?
The court may call a continuance 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 give you a continuance (even if you have talked to the other party and agreed to a later date). 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 fancy terms used in these cases?
A party is one a person, business entity, or public entity that is named as a plaintiff or defendant in a case. A “plaintiff” or “claimant” is the party who brings or initiates the action in Small Claims Court. 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 the defendant and are interested in bringing in a third party, contact the court involved with your action about beginning a third party action.
How do I file a 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. 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.
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 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 corporate entities are able to be sued in small claims court. When a corporate entity is sued, it can authorize an employee, director, or attorney to appear and defend it in court.
Appeals for 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). There are additional fees you need to file as well as determining whether a transcript of the case 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.” Some parties benefit from consulting with an attorney prior to filing an appeal (to determine if it is even worthwhile).
How do I begin a Small Claims Court case?
You must go to the Small Claims Court to file your case. The court will provide the necessary forms. 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 may be entitled to interest if the basis for your case is property damage or based on a contract. 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 date and time of the hearing will be provided to you by the clerk. 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 sends the notice via certified and first-class mail. If the notice sent by first-class mail is not returned as undeliverable, the defendant is deemed to be “served,” even if the notice sent by certified mail has not been delivered (otherwise a defendant could simply refuse to sign for the certified mail). 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. The court will dismiss the case if the defendant cannot be served within four months. 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).
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Schuyler 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 Schuyler County, the mediation provider is:
Community Dispute Resolution Center, Inc.
105 9th Street, Unit 15
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
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).
Hearing Day Procedures
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). 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 you are unable to find your case on the calendar, you should contact the court clerk (or judge if there is no court clerk). 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.
Small Claims Court Cases in Schuyler County
In Schuyler County, small claims court cases are heard in the local town or village court. One can sue for $3,000.00 or less in a town or village court in Schuyler County. 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 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.
Small Claims Court Locations in Schuyler County
Each village or town has in Schuyler County has its own court to handle cases arising at that town or village. In Schuyler County, there are [COURTSNUM] separate courts for the following villages or towns:Catharine Town, Cayuta Town, Dix Town, Hector Town, Montour Falls Village, Montour Town, Odessa Village, Orange Town, Reading Town, Tyrone Town, and Watkins Glen Village.
The locations for the courts are:
Catharine Town Court5182 Park Road Odessa, NY 14869
Cayuta Town Court6360 Routte 224 Cayuta Town Hall P.O. Box 22 Cayuta, NY 14824
Dix Town Court304 7th Street Town Hall Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Hector Town Court5097 Route 227 Burdett, NY 14818
Montour Falls Village Court408 West Main Street Montour Falls, NY 14865
Montour Town Court408 West Main Street P.O. Box 353 Montour Falls, NY 14865
Odessa Village Court5182 Park Road Odessa, NY 14869
Orange Town Court899 Hornby Road Beaver Dams, NY 14812
Reading Town CourtPO Box 7 Reading Center, NY 14876
Tyrone Town Court435 County Route 23 P.O. Box 169 Dundee, NY 14837
Watkins Glen Village Court303 North Franklin Street Watkins Glen, NY 14891
What is 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 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. If you contact the Schuyler County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.