Bedford County Magisterial District Court Hearing
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. At the hearing, there will usually be the judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for both sides. Courtrooms are open to the public so there may be additional persons in the gallery (who may include additional parties if there is more than one case set for a hearing that day). At the beginning of the case (or calendar), the Magisterial District Judge will usually briefly explain the procedures used at the hearing. Both parties will be sworn in to provide testimony. At the hearing, the judge will give the plaintiff an opportunity to testify about the circumstances surrounding the case. 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 done, the witnesses that the plaintiff brought will also be given a chance to provide testimony. 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 judge will also give the defendant a chance to have any witnesses that he or she brought to present testimony as well. Once all the evidence has been presented, the judge will either make a decision at the hearing or within five days.
Small Claims Court in Bedford County
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. In Magisterial District Court, a party is not required to have an attorney. The claim, or amount in controversy, cannot exceed $12,000.00. The plaintiff is also required to file a filing fee (which varies depending on how much money the plaintiff is asking for). There may also be an additional cost for serving the Defendant. If the plaintiff wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.
Where to File a Small Claims Court Case?
The Pennsylvania courts are divided by county and then into districts. Each district has an elected Magisterial District Judge. The plaintiff should file the case in the Magisterial District where:
- the Defendant resides or where the business is located
- the contract for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
- the damage or accident involved happened
- the property from the case is kept
Once you locate what the appropriate court should be, you should contact the court to determine whether it is the appropriate place to file your claim. The plaintiff should also inquire from the clerk what the filing fee will be. The filing fee will be paid when the Complaint is filed with the court. The form “Civil Complaint” need to be completed by the plaintiff. 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.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Bedford 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). A demand letter can be the easiest and shortest way to resolve your case. Be sure to include a deadline that is reasonable in your demand letter. If the defendant does not agree to your demands, then you may consider filing your case once the deadline has passed. Before filing your case, you need to learn the name and address of the party you are filing your case against. The court is unable to accept a P.O. Box. It needs a physical address. If the party you intend on suing is not an individual, it is important to learn what corporate form the business is using. 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:
- plaintiff’s name and address
- defendant’s name and address
- the amount of the claim
- 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)
The court allows a plaintiff to file a complaint through the mail, but a plaintiff should file it in person so the court clerk can notify you if there are any problems with your complaint. 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. Your complaint can be served on the defendant either by certified mail or by a sheriff or constable. Service by a sheriff or constable can cost more than by certified mail (but may be quicker because a person might not be home or refuse to accept a certified letter).
What does a Magisterial District Judge Handle?
Magisterial District Judges are judges elected by the people of their district to handle criminal preliminary arraignments and preliminary hearings, summary criminal offenses, traffic offenses, municipal code violations, landlord / tenant actions, and civil actions where the damages do not exceed $12,000 (commonly known as small claims court).
Magisterial District Court in Bedford County
Bedford County has 4 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 57-3-01 is Tonya M. Osman . The 57-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1563 Market Street PO Box 58 Schellsburg, PA 15559
The phone number for 57-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-733-4375. The fax number for 57-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-733-4199.
The Magisterial District Judge for 57-3-02 is H. Cyril Bingham . The 57-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:120 West John Street Bedford, PA 15522
The phone number for 57-3-02 Magisterial District is: 814-623-6918. The fax number for 57-3-02 Magisterial District is: 814-623-8453.
The Magisterial District Judge for 57-3-03 is Brian K. Baker . The 57-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:2510 Raystown Road Everett, PA 15537
The phone number for 57-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-652-2128. The fax number for 57-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-652-9429.
The Magisterial District Judge for 57-3-04 is Kathy S. Calhoun . The 57-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:500 State Street Everett, PA 15537
The phone number for 57-3-04 Magisterial District is: 814-652-2523. The fax number for 57-3-04 Magisterial District is: 814-652-9006.
Types of Cases in Bedford County Small Claims Court
A Magisterial District Judge generally hears negligence and breach of contract actions with respect to civil cases. A contract is where two parties enter into an agreement (either written or oral). Contracts are used frequently and arise in many contexts including:
- homeowners and contractors to make repairs
- insurance companies to provide insurance services
- credit card companies and credit card holders to provide credit services
Breach of contract is where a party to a contract either doesn’t pay or doesn’t perform what they are supposed to under the contract. A negligence case occurs when a party who is responsible to protect someone or something using due care, fails to do so. These actions usually include traffic accidents or other types of situations resulting in personal injury or property damage.
Filing a Case in Bedford County Magisterial District Court
Claims for $12,000 or less can also be filed at the Common Pleas Court. However, the Magisterial District Court is not as formal and is cheaper than a case in common pleas court. Additionally, you need an attorney to file your case in the court of common pleas. In Magisterial District Court, an attorney is not required.
Bedford 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 there is an appeal, a Notice of Appeal is filed with the prothonotary in 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 prevents the plaintiff from collecting any money until the appeal is decided. If the judge rules for the defendant, the plaintiff can appeal this decision as well.