Adams County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania

 

Adams County Magisterial Districts

Adams County has 4 Magisterial Districts which are:

51-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 51-3-01 is Matthew R. Harvey . The 51-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

34 East Middle Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325

The phone number for 51-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-334-7913. The fax number for 51-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-334-1262.

51-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 51-3-01 is Matthew R. Harvey . The 51-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

34 East Middle Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325

The phone number for 51-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-334-7913. The fax number for 51-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-334-1262.

51-3-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 51-3-02 is Daniel S. Bowman . The 51-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

45D West Hanover Street
Bonneauville, PA 17325

The phone number for 51-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-334-7810. The fax number for 51-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-334-3226.

51-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 51-3-03 is Tony J. Little . The 51-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

40 Church Road
East Berlin, PA 17316

The phone number for 51-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-337-5770. The fax number for 51-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-337-5769.

51-3-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 51-3-04 is Mark D. Beauchat . The 51-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

Adams County Human Services Building
525 Boyds School Road, Suite 800
Gettysburg, PA 17325

The phone number for 51-3-04 Magisterial District is: 717-337-3870. The fax number for 51-3-04 Magisterial District is: 717-337-0934.

Before Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Adams County

You should send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment before filing your claim. A demand letter can be the easiest and shortest way to resolve your case. Make sure you set a reasonable deadline in your letter for the defendant to comply by. If the defendant does not agree to your demands, then you may consider filing your case once the deadline has passed. Prior to filing your claim, you need to ascertain the name and physical address of the party you intend to sue. The court is unable to accept a P.O. Box. It needs a physical address. Additionally, if the party you are suing is not an individual, you will need to have the correct name of the corporation, partnership, limited liability entity, or whatever the corporate structure the party is utilizing. The Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau (717-787-1057) can assist with learning this information. Before heading down to the courthouse to fill out your claim, you should have the following information:

  • plaintiff’s name and address
  • defendant’s name and address
  • the dollar amount of damages
  • brief statement about why the plaintiff is entitled to the amount of the claim (you should include specifics like locations and dates to assist the court and the defendant from learning what the case is about)

While you can submit your claim through the mail, it is recommended that you file it in person so the clerk can let you know in person whether the form has been properly completed. Additionally, you can pay the filing costs in person (which can be recovered if you prevail in your lawsuit). In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff will have to pay a fee to have the Defendant served. The plaintiff can have the claim served on the defendant by certified mail or personally by a sheriff or constable. Service by certified mail is cheaper but might not be as quick as personal service by a sheriff or constable.

After the Adams County Magisterial District Court Hearing

If the plaintiff prevails, the defendant may arrange to make payments on a twelve month installment plan (which will be set by the judge). The defendant has thirty days to appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision to Common Pleas Court. If there is an appeal, a Notice of Appeal is filed with the prothonotary in the county courthouse. A copy of the Notice of Appeal will be served on the judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff in the case. The Notice of Appeal prevents the plaintiff from collecting any money until the appeal is decided. If the plaintiff does not prevail at the initial hearing, the plaintiff has the option of appealing the Magisterial District Judge’s decision as well.

Small Claims Court in Adams County

Adams County Small Claims Court

Adams County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. A party is not required to have an attorney for a small claims court case in a Magisterial District Court. The claim, or amount in controversy, cannot exceed $12,000.00. A filing fee is required and depends on the amount of money in dispute. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff will need to pay for the defendant(s) to be served. If the plaintiff wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.

Types of Cases in Adams County Small Claims Court

Most cases filed in small claims court in Adams County are either considered a breach of contract case or a negligence case. A breach of contract case happens when two parties enter into a contract (oral or written) and one party fails to perform its obligations under the contract (either didn’t pay money or didn’t perform services or work). Contracts are used in many situations including:

  • home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
  • insurance companies to provide insurance services
  • credit services between a credit card company and a consumer

Breach of contract occurs when one party does not complete what they are required to do under the contract. Negligence is where a person or party has a responsibility to use reasonable care to protect others from damages and fails to do so. Negligence actions usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.

Adams County Magisterial District Court Small Claims Court Hearing

Once the claim has been filed, the clerk will set a hearing between 12 and 60 days from the date of the filing of the claim. Prior to the hearing, you should gather all documents and papers related to your case. Both the plaintiff and defendant should also arrange to have any witnesses with knowledge about the case present in court on the date of the hearing. On the day of the hearing the courtroom will include the following: court clerk, judge, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses that either side intends to call. Because the hearing is open to the public, there may be members of the public watching court from the gallery (along with maybe other parties waiting for their cases to be called). The judge will explain the procedures at the beginning of the case (or at the beginning of the docket if there are multiple cases set for a hearing on the same day). Plaintiff and Defendant will both be sworn in at the beginning to present testimony to the court. The court will give the plaintiff a chance to present its case through testimony. During his or her testimony, the plaintiff should be sure to discuss and show to the court any documentary evidence (agreements, receipts) or other evidence (photographs or videos) to support the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff will probably also be asked questions by the defendant. Once the plaintiff is finished, any witnesses the plaintiff brought will be sworn and have the chance to testify as well. The defendant will have the chance to ask questions for these witnesses too. Once the plaintiff is done, the defendant will have a chance to present testimony (and the plaintiff can ask questions of the defendant). The defendant can also bring witnesses to provide testimony to the judge as well. Once all the evidence has been presented, the judge will either make a decision at the hearing or within five days.

Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?

Courts in Pennsylvania are divided into districts. Each district has a Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed in the Magisterial District where:

  • the Defendant resides or where the business is located
  • the contract involved was signed or performance was made
  • the accident occurred
  • the goods involved are permanently kept

The plaintiff should contact the Magisterial District Court where the plaintiff thinks the case should be filed and inquire if it is the correct court. You should also contact them to determine what the filing fee will be. The filing fee will be paid when the Complaint is filed with the court. The plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” If the plaintiff intends to place confidential information on the “Civil Complaint,” the plaintiff also needs to complete the “Confidential Information Form” which is located on the same page.

Filing a Case in Adams County Magisterial District Court

A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in Common Pleas Court. However, the Magisterial District Court is not as formal and is cheaper than a case in common pleas court. The Common Pleas Court requires an attorney to handle your case. Magisterial District Court does not require an attorney.

What is a Magisterial District Judge?

A Magisterial District Judge has jurisdiction over the following cases: preliminary hearings and preliminary arraignments in criminal cases, traffic offenses, municipal code violations, landlord/tenant cases and cases where the amount sought does not exceed $12,000.00.