Steuben County Small Claims Court
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).
What are Steuben County Small Claims Court cases?
Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Steuben County. One can sue for $3,000.00 or less in a town or village court in Steuben County. These cases are designed to be resolved informally (so a party does not have to 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. A claimant or plantiff can only seek monetary relief in small claims court. 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). 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.
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). 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 plaintiff or defendant can choose to hire an attorney if he or she chooses. 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 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). An affidavit (sworn statement) has to be filed which identifies the factual issues a jury is needed to hear. 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 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 Steuben County, the mediation provider is:
Center for Dispute Settlement, Inc.
82 Main Street
Hornell, NY 14843
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).
Can I file my small claims case in Steuben?
A plaintiff has to bring the action in the village or town in which the defendant resides or a business has an open office.
Should I use arbitration for my small claims court case?
Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution that is like a less-formal trial. 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 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. The final judgment issued by the arbitrator cannot be appealed by any party.
How do I get 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 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. You can also ask for a continuance on the hearing date, but you need to be prepared in case the court refuses your request.
How do I file a counterclaim against the plaintiff?
A defendant may file a counterclaim against a plaintiff. If the counterclaim is filed within five days of being served with the initial claim, the hearing date remains the same. There is a $3 filing fee. 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.
Small Claims Court Locations in Steuben County
Each town and village has its own court to handle cases from there. Steuben County Small Claims Cases are handled in 38 locations for the following towns and villages: Addison Town, Avoca Town, Bath Town, Bath Village, Bradford Town, Cameron Town, Campbell Town, Canisteo Town, Canisteo Village, Caton Town, Cohocton Town, Cohocton Village, Corning Town, Dansville Town, Erwin Town, Fremont Town, Greenwood Town, Hammondsport Village, Hartsville Town, Hornby Town, Hornellsville Town, Howard Town, Jasper Town, Lindley Town, Prattsburgh Town, Pulteney Town, Rathbone Town, Savona Village, Thurston Town, Troupsburg Town, Tuscarora Town, Urbana Town, Wayland Town, Wayland Village, Wayne Town, West Union Town, Wheeler Town, and Woodhull Town.
The small claims court locations are:
Addison Town Court21 Main Street Addison, NY 14801
Avoca Town Court3 Chase Street P.O. Box 463 Avoca, NY 14809
Bath Town Court110 Liberty Street PO Box 327 Bath, NY 14810
Bath Village Court110 Liberty Street PO Box 327 Bath, NY 14810
Bradford Town CourtPO Box 184 Town Hall Bradford, NY 14815
Cameron Town CourtTown Hall P.O. Box 1932 Cameron, NY 14819
Campbell Town Court8529 Main Street Campbell, NY 14821
Canisteo Town Court6 South Main Street Canisteo, NY 14823
Canisteo Village Court8 Green Street Canisteo, NY 14823
Caton Town Court11161 Hendy Hollow Road Corning, NY 14830
Cohocton Town CourtPO Box 221 Atlanta, NY 14808
Cohocton Village CourtPO Box 221 Atlanta, NY 14808
Corning Town Court20 South Maple Street Corning, NY 14830
Dansville Town Court1487 Day Road Town Hall Arkport, NY 14807
Erwin Town Court117 West Water Street Town Hall Painted Post, NY 14870
Fremont Town Court8217 Cream Hill Road PO Box 1017 Arkport, NY 14807
Greenwood Town Court2686 Route 248 P.O. Box 764 Greenwood, NY 14839
Hammondsport Village Court41 Lake Street Hammondsport, NY 14840
Hartsville Town Court5150 Purdy Creek Rd Hornell, NY 14843
Hornby Town Court5029 Hornby Road Beaver Dams, NY 14812
Hornellsville Town Court4 Parks Street PO Box 1 Arkport, NY 14807
Howard Town Court3725 Mill Road Avoca, NY 14809
Jasper Town CourtDrawer 10 Jasper, NY 14855
Lindley Town Court637 US 15 P.O. Box 62 Lindley, NY 14858
Prattsburgh Town Court19 North Main Street P.O. Box 372 Prattsburgh, NY 14873
Pulteney Town CourtPO Box 214 Pulteney, NY 14874
Rathbone Town Court8088 County Road 21 Town Hall Addison, NY 14801
Savona Village Court15 McCoy Street P.O. Box 411 Savona, NY 14879
Thurston Town Court7578 County Route 333 Campbell, NY 14821
Troupsburg Town CourtPO Box 83 Troupsburg, NY 14885
Tuscarora Town Court1094 Gill Road Addison, NY 14801
Urbana Town CourtPO Box 186 Hammondsport, NY 14840
Wayland Town Court17 North Main Street PO Box 515 Wayland, NY 14572
Wayland Village Court17 North Main Street PO Box 515 Wayland, NY 14572
Wayne Town CourtSilsbee Road Wayne, NY 14893
West Union Town Court1328 State Route 248 Rexville, NY 14877
Wheeler Town Court6439 Gardner Road Bath, NY 14810
Woodhull Town Court1585 Academy Street PO Box 56 Woodhull, NY 14898
Can I sue in small claims court?
Small clams court is open to any party who is a person 18 years of age or older. If you are a younger than 18, the parent or guardian may bring the action 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. 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).
Small Claims Court Appeals for Steuben County 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 fees for filing a notice of appeal as well as additional costs for purchasing a transcript (if a court reporter was present). Consult with an attorney when you are deciding if you should file an appeal. 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.
Hearing Day Procedures
You should arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the time designated for 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). In some courtrooms, the clerk may check people in as they arrive. In others, you must wait until your 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 begin a Small Claims Court case?
The case has to be filed at the court location. The court will provide you with the necessary forms to be filled out. These forms will ask for a statement of the 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 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 “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. Due Process (a fancy way of saying fairness) requires that the defendant be served prior to a hearing on your case. The court will dismiss the case if the defendant cannot be served within four months. 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).
Small Claims Court Terms
A party is one a person, business entity, or public entity that is named as a plaintiff or defendant in a case. A plaintiff (sometimes called claimant) is the person who initiates or begins the lawsuit. A defendant is the person or entity being sued (person who owes money). 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.
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). 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 Steuben County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing date for my small claims court case in Steuben County?
If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the 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. Court rules require that the judge not enter a default judgment until one hour after the time set for the hearing.