Westchester County Small Claims Court
Mediation of Small Claims Court Cases in Westchester 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 Westchester County, the program used for mediation is:
The Westchester Mediation Center of CLUSTER
20 South Broadway, Suite 501
P. O. Box 1248
Yonkers, NY 10702
If mediation does not resolve the issue, the case continues in small claims court. Note: If parties agree, they can enter mediation even before a case is filed. There is usually no charge for mediation (but there may be a small filing fee).
Small Claims Court Cases in Westchester County
Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Westchester County. One can sue for $3,000.00 or less in a town or village court in Westchester 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. If your claim exceeds $3,000, you may not split them into two separate claims to bring it 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.
How a Small Claims Court Case Begins
The case has to be filed at the court location. Visit the court for that town or village, and the court will provide you with the paperwork to begin the action. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the 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 clerk will provide the time and date for the small claims court hearing. 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. Once 21 days have passed, the defendant is deemed “served” unless the first-class item was returned 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). Pursuant to due process, a hearing cannot occur until the defendant has been served. The court will dismiss the case if the defendant cannot be served within four months. Dismissal is without prejudice meaning you can refile if you learn new information that the defendant is still residing in that village or town.
Hearing Day Procedures
We recommend arriving to court at least fifteen minutes before your hearing. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). 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). Courtrooms have different procedures. In some courtrooms, the clerk checks in parties as they arrive. Some courts simply have you 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.
Jury Trials 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 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 the case remains in regular small claims court, six jurors are used to hear the case.
Can I hire an attorney to represent me in small claims court?
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 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.
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. A “defendant” is the party that is being sued. 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 interested in filing a third party claim (as a defendant), contact the local clerk for the filing fees and local procedures.
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 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. 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.
Appeals for Small Claims Court 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 additional fees you need to file as well as determining whether a transcript of the case 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.” This is why we recommend consulting an attorney to determine if an appeal is appropriate.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing?
If you are the plaintiff, your 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.
What are the filing costs for a case in Westchester County?
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).
How do I counterclaim against the plaintiff?
How do I 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.
Where are the Small Claims Courts located in Westchester County?
Each town and village has its own court to handle cases from there. Westchester County Small Claims Cases are handled in 37 locations for the following towns and villages: Ardsley Village, Bedford Town, Briarcliff Manor Village, Bronxville Village, Buchanan Village, Cortlandt Town, Croton-on-Hudson Village, Dobbs Ferry Village, Eastchester Town, Elmsford Village, Greenburgh Town, Harrison Town, Hastings-on-Hudson Village, Irvington Village, Larchmont Village, Lewisboro Town, Mamaroneck Town, Mamaroneck Village, Mount Kisco Town, Mount Pleasant Town, New Castle Town, North Castle Town, North Salem Town, Ossining Town, Ossining Village, Pelham Town, Pleasantville Village, Port Chester Village, Pound Ridge Town, Rye Town, Scarsdale Town, Scarsdale Village, Sleepy Hollow Village, Somers Town, Tarrytown Village, Tuckahoe Village, and Yorktown Town.
The locations for the courts are:
Ardsley Village Court505 Ashford Avenue Ardsley, NY 10502
Bedford Town Court321 Bedford Road Bedford Hills, NY 10507
Briarcliff Manor Village Court1111 Pleasantville Road Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
Bronxville Village Court200 Pondfield Road Bronxville, NY 10707
Buchanan Village Court236 Tate Avenue Buchanan, NY 10511
Cortlandt Town CourtOne Heady Street Cortlandt Manor, NY 10566
Croton-on-Hudson Village CourtVan Wyck Street Municipal Building Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520
Dobbs Ferry Village Court112 Main Street Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Eastchester Town Court40 Mill Road Eastchester, NY 10707
Elmsford Village Court15 South Stone Avenue Elmsford, NY 10523
Greenburgh Town Court188 Tarrytown Road White Plains, NY 10607
Harrison Town Court1 Heineman Place Municipal Building Harrison, NY 10528
Hastings-on-Hudson Village Court7 Maple Ave Village Court, Municipal Building Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
Irvington Village Court85 Main Street Irvington, NY 10533
Larchmont Village Court120 Larchmont Avenue Municipal Building Larchmont, NY 10538
Lewisboro Town Court11 Main Street PO Box 500 South Salem, NY 10590
Mamaroneck Town Court740 West Boston Post Road Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Mamaroneck Village Court169 Mt Pleasant Avenue Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Mount Kisco Town Court40 Green Street Mount Kisco, NY 10549
Mount Pleasant Town Court1 Town Hall Plaza Valhalla, NY 10595
New Castle Town Court200 South Greeley Avenue Chappaqua, NY 10514
North Castle Town Court15 Bedford Road Armonk, NY 10504
North Salem Town Court266 Titicus Road PO Box 365 North Salem, NY 10560
Ossining Town Court86 Spring Street Ossining, NY 10562
Ossining Village Court86 Spring St Ossining, NY 10562
Pelham Town Court34 Fifth Avenue Pelham, NY 10803
Pleasantville Village Court80 Wheeler Avenue Pleasantville, NY 10570
Port Chester Village Court350 North Main Street Port Chester, NY 10573
Pound Ridge Town Court179 Westchester Avenue Town Office Pound Ridge, NY 10576
Rye Town Court10 Pearl Street Port Chester, NY 10573
Scarsdale Town Court1001 Post Road Scarsdale, NY 10583
Scarsdale Village Court1001 Post Road Scarsdale, NY 10583
Sleepy Hollow Village Court28 Beekman Avenue Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Somers Town Court335 Route 202 Somers, NY 10589
Tarrytown Village CourtOne Depot Plaza Tarrytown, NY 10591
Tuckahoe Village Court65 Main Street Tuckahoe, NY 10707
Yorktown Town Court2295 Crompond Road Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
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. Contact the Westchester County Clerk’s Office. They will be able to provide you with the business’s correct legal name.
Should I use arbitration for my small claims court case?
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 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). Arbitrators use the same law as the small claims court judge. When an arbitrator decides your case, the decision is final. There is no appeal-by either party.
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.
Can I ask for a continuance?
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. The only person with the power to move the hearing date is the court (even if both parties agree). If you want a continuance, you can ask the court through mail. You should send a copy of the request to all the parties involved in the case as well. 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.