Warren County Small Claims Court
Can I hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney for a small claims court case. 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 Cases in Warren County
Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Warren County. 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). 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 relief available in small claims court cases is monetary. A party cannot sue to ask the court to order a defendant to take action (ie. fulfill the terms of an advertisement). 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.
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Warren County?
A defendant (and only a defendant) can request a jury trial for a small claims court case. The demand must be made prior to the actual 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?
Small clams court is open to any party who is a person 18 years of age or older. If you are younger than 18, your parent or legal guardian is able to sue 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 entities can be sued in this court. When a business, corporation, or other entity is sued, the entity is able to authorize a person (usually an employee, director, or attorney) to appear on its behalf.
Can I ask for a continuance?
Can I file my small claims case in
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.
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Warren County?
Each village or town has in Warren County has its own court to handle cases arising at that town or village. Warren County Small Claims Cases are handled in 11 locations for the following towns and villages: Bolton Town, Chester Town, Hague Town, Horicon Town, Johnsburg Town, Lake George Town, Lake Luzerne Town, Queensbury Town, Stony Creek Town, Thurman Town, and Warrensburg Town.
Here are the court locations:
Bolton Town CourtLake Shore Drive PO Box 478 Bolton Landing, NY 12814
Chester Town CourtPO Box 486 Chestertown, NY 12817
Hague Town CourtRoute 8 PO Box 509 Town Hall Hague, NY 12836
Horicon Town CourtPO Box 31 Brant Lake, NY 12815
Johnsburg Town CourtPO Box 178, 2370 State Route 28 Wevertown, NY 12886
Lake George Town Court20 Old Post Road Town Center Lake George, NY 12845
Lake Luzerne Town Court539 Lake Avenue P.O. Box 31 Lake Luzerne, NY 12846
Queensbury Town Court81 Glenwood Avenue Queensbury, NY 12804
Stony Creek Town Court52 Hadley Road Town Hall Stony Creek, NY 12878
Thurman Town Court303 Athol Road PO Box 134 Athol, NY 12810
Warrensburg Town Court3797 Main Street Warrensburg, NY 12885
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. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). 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.
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 the defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the court may grant a default judgment based on the evidence that the plaintiff presented. Court rules require that the judge not enter a default judgment until one hour after the time set for the hearing.
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. The plaintiff (sometimes referred to as a claimant) is the person (or entity) that begins the lawsuit (by a filing at the courthouse). 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 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. These forms 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 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 clerk will provide the time and date for the small claims court hearing. The clerk provides the defendant with the statement of the claim and the date and time of the hearing (this is called “service”). 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 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. 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 Warren 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 Warren County, the program used for mediation is:
Municipal Ctr., 1340 Rt.9
Lake George, NY 12845
If mediation is not successful, the case remains in small claims court (with a trial). There may be a small filing fee for mediations.
How much does it cost to file a case?
In Warren County, the filing fee is $10, if you are asking for $1,000 or less, and $15, if the amount is more than that.
Small Claims Court Appeals for Warren 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). 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.” This is why we recommend consulting an attorney to determine if an appeal is appropriate.
Can 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.
Should I use arbitration for my small claims court case?
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. The final judgment issued by the arbitrator cannot be appealed by any party.
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). Businesses can be slightly more difficult because you may not know the structure of the business. If you contact the Warren County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.