Armstrong County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania

Armstrong County Small Claims Court Case Types

A Magisterial District Judge generally hears negligence and breach of contract actions with respect to civil cases. A breach of contract action is where parties enter into an agreement that can be either oral or in writing. Contracts are used in many situations including:

  • contractors and homeowner to make improvements
  • insurance companies and their insureds to provide services
  • credit card companies when providing credit to consumers

A breach of contract is when one party does not do what they promised under the agreement (pay money or provide services usually). A negligence case occurs when a party who is responsible to protect someone or something using due care, fails to do so. Negligence actions generally include traffic accidents on the road and can include an actions for personal injuries (pain and suffering to a person) and property damage (generally to a car or other property).

Small Claims Court Hearings in Armstrong County Magisterial District Court

After the claim is filed, the clerk will usually set a hearing between 12 and 60 days of the filing of the claim. Before the hearing, both parties should gather all documents and papers related to the 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). At the beginning of the hearing, the Magisterial District Judge will explain the procedures. 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 this time, the plaintiff should present any evidence supporting the case including paperwork, receipts, records, photographs, or videos of the case. The defendant will have the opportunity to ask questions of the plaintiff. Once the plaintiff is finished, any witnesses the plaintiff brought will be sworn and have the chance to testify as well. The defendant will also be granted the opportunity to ask questions of these witnesses as well. After the plaintiff is done presenting his or her case, the judge will give the defendant an opportunity to testify (and the plaintiff will be given the chance to ask questions as well). The defendant can also bring witnesses to provide testimony to the judge as well. After all the evidence has been presented, the judge will make a decision (either at the hearing or within five days).

Armstrong County Small Claims Court

Armstrong County Small Claims Court

Armstrong County Small Claims Court

Magisterial District Courts in Pennsylvania handle a wide variety of cases including what are commonly known as small claims court cases. A lawyer is not required. The amount of the claim you are filing cannot exceed $12,000.00. The plaintiff is required to file a filing fee when filing the complaint. There is also an additional cost for serving the defendant with the claim. If the plaintiff prevails in the case, these costs can be recovered from the defendant.

Filing a Case in Armstrong County Magisterial District Court

Claims for $12,000 or less can also be filed at the Common Pleas Court. But, the Magisterial District Courts are less formal, less expensive, and faster than common pleas courts. The Common Pleas Court requires an attorney to handle your case. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.

Armstrong County Magisterial District Court Appeal

If the plaintiff wins at the hearing, the judge may set up a twelve month installment plan for payments from the Defendant. Also, the defendant has thirty days to file an appeal to the Common Pleas Court. If the defendant wishes to appeal, he or she must file a Notice of Appeal with the prothonotary at the county courthouse. The Notice of Appeal will be served on the Magisterial District Judge who made the decision along with the plaintiff. The Notice of Appeal will prevent the plaintiff from taking any steps to collect money from the defendant until the appeal is decided. If the judge rules for the defendant, the plaintiff can appeal this decision as well.

Armstrong County Magisterial Districts

Armstrong County has 4 Magisterial Districts which are:

33-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 33-3-01 is J. Gary DeComo . The 33-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

206 Fifth Avenue, Suite A
Ford City, PA 16226

The phone number for 33-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-763-7866. The fax number for 33-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-763-8821.

33-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 33-3-01 is J. Gary DeComo . The 33-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

206 Fifth Avenue, Suite A
Ford City, PA 16226

The phone number for 33-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-763-7866. The fax number for 33-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-763-8821.

33-3-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 33-3-02 is James H. Owen . The 33-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

201 North Jefferson Street
Kittanning, PA 16201

The phone number for 33-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-543-2313. The fax number for 33-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-545-9029.

33-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 33-3-03 is James A. Andring . The 33-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

241 Market Street
Leechburg, PA 15656

The phone number for 33-3-03 Magisterial District is: 724-842-3571. The fax number for 33-3-03 Magisterial District is: 724-845-7610.

33-3-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 33-3-04 is Kevin L. McCausland . The 33-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

720 Main Street
PO Box 393
Rural Valley, PA 16249

The phone number for 33-3-04 Magisterial District is: 724-783-6886. The fax number for 33-3-04 Magisterial District is: 724-783-2079.

Where Should I File a Armstrong County Small Claims Court Case?

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

  • the Defendant resides or where the business is located
  • the contract was signed or where the contract was supposed to be performed
  • the damage or accident involved happened
  • the goods involved are permanently kept

The plaintiff should contact the Magisterial District Court clerk to ensure it is the proper court for the case. The plaintiff should also inquire from the clerk what the filing fee will be. You will pay the filing fee when you file the Complaint with the court. The plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” Note: if you need to include confidential information in your complaint, it is important to use the Confidential Information Form found on the same page.

Steps Before Filing a Case in Armstrong County Small Claims Court

Before you file a claim, you should send a letter to the defendant demanding payment (or whatever property you are seeking). This is usually the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute. In addition to the amount you are requesting, you should also set a reasonable deadline for the defendant to respond 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 clerk is unable to accept a Post Office Box for an 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 is a great resource for assisting with this task (Phone: 717-787-1057). Before heading down to the courthouse to fill out your claim, you should have the following information:

  • name and address of the plaintiff
  • name and address of the defendant
  • 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. The plaintiff can also pay the filing fee in person at the courthouse. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff will have to pay a fee to have the Defendant served. A Defendant can be served by certified mail or in person by a deputy sheriff or constable. Service by certified mail is cheaper but might not be as quick as personal service by a sheriff or constable.

What does a Magisterial District Judge Handle?

A Magisterial District Judge is a judge elected by the people of the district to handle certain types of cases including criminal (preliminary hearings and arraignments, traffic offenses, municipal code violations) and civil (landlord/tenant cases and cases where the amount in dispute does not exceed $12,000).