Suffolk County Small Claims Court
Are continuances allowed in small claims court?
In small claims court cases, a continuance can also be called an adjournment. These are discouraged as the purpose of small claims court is a quick, efficient way of resolving 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. 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 much does it cost to file a case in Suffolk County?
In Suffolk County, the filing fee is $10, if you are asking for $1,000 or less, and $15, if the amount is more than that.
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. 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.
Suffolk County Small Claims Court
In Suffolk 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. Small claims court cases are designed to be relatively informal (compared to normal civil cases). 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). You can only sue to recover money. A plaintiff or claimant can also sue a public entity like a city or other agency. However, you have to file a claim with that agency before filing your small claims court action. The claim must be filed within ninety days of the incident. If you fail to follow this rule, your case will be dismissed.
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Suffolk County?
Each village or town has in Suffolk County has its own court to handle cases arising at that town or village. Suffolk County Small Claims Cases are handled in 33 locations for the following towns and villages: Amityville Village, Asharoken Village, Babylon Village, Belle Terre Village, Bellport Village, Brightwaters Village, East Hampton Town, Head of the Harbor Village, Huntington Bay Village, Islandia Village, Lake Grove Village, Lindenhurst Village, Lloyd Harbor Village, Mastic Beach Village, Nissequogue Village, Northport Village, Ocean Beach Village, Old Field Village, Patchogue Village, Poquott Village, Port Jefferson Village, Quogue Village, Riverhead Town, Sag Harbor Village, Saltaire Village, Shelter Island Town, Shoreham Village, Southampton Town, Southampton Village, Southold Town, Village of the Branch Village, West Hampton Dunes Village, and Westhampton Beach Village.
Here are the court locations:
Amityville Village Court21 Ireland Place Amityville, NY 11701
Asharoken Village Court1 Asharoken Ave Village Hall Northport, NY 11768
Babylon Village Court153 West Main Street Babylon, NY 11702
Belle Terre Village Court55 Cliff Road Town Hall Belle Terre, NY 11777
Bellport Village Court29 Bellport Lane Bellport, NY 11713
Brightwaters Village Court40 Seneca Drive PO Box 601 Brightwaters, NY 11718
East Hampton Town Court159 Pantigo Rd East Hampton, NY 11937
Head of the Harbor Village Court500 North Country Road Village Court St. James, NY 11780
Huntington Bay Village Court244 Vineyard Road PO Box 2184 Huntington, NY 11743
Islandia Village Court1100 Old Nichols Road Islandia, NY 11749
Lake Grove Village CourtPO Box 1231 Lake Grove, NY 11755
Lindenhurst Village Court430 South Wellwood Avenue Lindenhurst, NY 11757
Lloyd Harbor Village Court380 West Neck Road Lloyd Harbor, NY 11743
Mastic Beach Village Court427 Neighborhood Road PO Box 521 Mastic Beach, NY 11951
Nissequogue Village CourtPOB 184 St. James, NY 11780
Northport Village Court224 Main Street Village Hall Northport, NY 11768
Ocean Beach Village CourtPO Box 433 Ocean Beach, NY 11770
Old Field Village CourtPO Box 2724 Setauket, NY 11733
Patchogue Village CourtP.O. Box 719 Patchogue, NY 11772
Poquott Village Court45 Birchwood Avenue Setauket, NY 11733
Port Jefferson Village Court121 West Broadway Port Jefferson, NY 11777
Quogue Village Court123 Jessup Avenue PO Box 926 Quogue, NY 11959
Riverhead Town Court210 Howell Avenue Riverhead, NY 11901
Sag Harbor Village Court55 Main Street PO Box 660 Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Saltaire Village CourtPO Box 5551 Bay Shore, NY 11706
Shelter Island Town CourtRoute 114 PO Box 1632 Justice Hall Shelter, NY 11964
Shoreham Village CourtPO Box 389 Shoreham, NY 11786
Southampton Town Court32 Jackson Avenue Hampton Bays, NY 11946
Southampton Village Court151 Windmill Lane Southampton, NY 11968
Southold Town Court53095 Main Road, Route 25 PO Box 1179 Southold, NY 11971
Village of the Branch Village CourtPO Box 725 Smithtown, NY 11787
West Hampton Dunes Village Court165 Mill Road West Hampton Dunes, NY 11978
Westhampton Beach Village Court165 Mill Road Westhampton Beach, NY 11978
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 (sometimes called claimant) is the person who initiates or begins the lawsuit. The defendant is the party who is being sued. A third party is also sometimes brought into a case by a defendant if the defendant feels that the third party may be wholly or partly responsible for plaintiff’s claims. 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.
What do I do on the hearing date?
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. When you arrive, you should look for the small claims court calendar or for a clerk to assist you. The calendar will list the cases that will be heard that day. They will be listed by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or business name). 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.
Am I eligible to sue in small claims court?
In order to file an action, you must be 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. 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. These entities can be sued in this court. When a corporate entity is sued, it can authorize an employee, director, or attorney to appear and defend it in court.
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Suffolk 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 has to fill out, under oath, a statement identifying which issues the jury will consider. The judge will then determine if the case should 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 happens if I don’t show up for the hearing?
If the plaintiff fails to appear at the hearing, the case is dismissed. If you are the defendant, the court may grant a default judgment in your absence. 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.
Can I 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. That said, you may choose to hire an attorney to represent you. 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.
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 Suffolk County, the mediation provider is:
Long Island Dispute Resolution Centers
Education and Assistance Corporation, Inc.
26 N. Clinton Avenue
Bay Shore, NY 11706
If a case cannot be settled at mediation, the case remains with the small claims court (and proceeds to trial). There is usually no charge for mediation (but there may be a small filing fee).
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. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the case. This is the term the court uses to ask what your case is about. Your statement of the case should be concise but still include all the important facts. You may be entitled to interest if the basis for your case is property damage or based on a contract. 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 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 notice is sent by certified mail and first-class mail. Once 21 days have passed, the defendant is deemed “served” unless the first-class item was returned 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. Pursuant to due process, a hearing cannot occur until the defendant has been served. 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).
Can I file my small claims case in
The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).
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). 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 Suffolk County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.
What is arbitration?
Abitration is a type of dispute resolution that is less-formal than a trial, but more formal than mediation. 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 applies the same law to your case that the judge would. The final judgment issued by the arbitrator cannot be appealed by any party.
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). There are additional fees you need to file as well as determining whether a transcript of the case 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.” This is why we recommend consulting an attorney to determine if an appeal is appropriate.