Berks County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania


Small Claims Court Hearings in Berks County Magisterial District Court

Once you file your claim, the clerk will schedule a hearing (usually between 12 and 60 days from the date you filed your claim). Each party should gather all documents and papers related to the case before the hearing. You should also arrange to have any witnesses that may support your position present on the date of the hearing so they can testify. 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. 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. 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. The plaintiff can present papers, bills, records, receipts, photographs, or video to the judge. 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. After the plaintiff is finished presenting his or her case, the court will allow the defendant a chance to present a defense (including testimony from 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.

Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Berks County Magisterial District Court

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. 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. It is also important to know the name and address of the party you wish to file your action 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. For help determining the proper name, you should contact Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau online or by phone at 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
  • short statement of facts surrounding the circumstances of the case (including dates and locations)

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. While at the courthouse, the plaintiff can pay the filing fees. 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.

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).

Berks County Small Claims Court

Berks County Small Claims Court

Berks County Small Claims Court

Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. A lawyer is not required. The amount of the claim you are filing 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 prevails in the case, these costs can be recovered from the defendant.

Filing a Case in Berks 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. Additionally, you need an attorney to file your case in the court of common pleas. In Magisterial District Court, an attorney is not required.

Where to File a Small Claims Court Case?

Each county in Pennsylvania (except for Philadelphia) is divided into districts. Each district has an elected Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed in the Magisterial District where:

  • the business is located or where the defendant lives
  • the contract was signed or where the contract was supposed to be performed
  • the accident happened
  • 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. The plaintiff should also inquire from the clerk what the filing fee will be. The filing fee can be paid by the plaintiff when the case is actually filed. 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.

Berks County Magisterial Districts

Berks County has 17 Magisterial Districts which are:

23-1-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-1-01 is Ann L. Young . The 23-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

West Gate Shoppes
600 East Penn Avenue, Suite 5
Wernersville, PA 19565

The phone number for 23-1-01 Magisterial District is: 610-678-6721. The fax number for 23-1-01 Magisterial District is: 610-678-9835.

23-1-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-1-02 is Carissa L. Johnson . The 23-1-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1150 Muhlenberg Street
Reading, PA 19602

The phone number for 23-1-02 Magisterial District is: 610-374-9288. The fax number for 23-1-02 Magisterial District is: 610-374-3079.

23-1-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-1-03 is Kyley L. Scott . The 23-1-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

101 North Ninth Street
Reading, PA 19601

The phone number for 23-1-03 Magisterial District is: 610-378-5101. The fax number for 23-1-03 Magisterial District is: 610-378-0441.

23-1-05

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-1-05 is Alvin B. Robinson . The 23-1-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

Berks County Courthouse
633 Court Street
Reading, PA 19601

The phone number for 23-1-05 Magisterial District is: 610-373-2127. The fax number for 23-1-05 Magisterial District is: 610-373-2635.

23-1-06

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-1-06 is Dean R. Patton . The 23-1-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

427 Water Street
Temple, PA 19560

The phone number for 23-1-06 Magisterial District is: 610-929-4440. The fax number for 23-1-06 Magisterial District is: 610-921-3625.

23-2-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-2-01 is Stuart D. Kennedy . The 23-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

441 Morgantown Road
Reading, PA 19611

The phone number for 23-2-01 Magisterial District is: 610-375-7101. The fax number for 23-2-01 Magisterial District is: 610-375-7144.

23-2-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-2-02 is Eric J. Taylor . The 23-2-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

401 Walnut Street
West Reading, PA 19611

The phone number for 23-2-02 Magisterial District is: 610-374-7721. The fax number for 23-2-02 Magisterial District is: 610-374-7769.

23-2-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-2-03 is Sandra L. Fegley . The 23-2-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

10 Fairlane Road
Reading, PA 19606

The phone number for 23-2-03 Magisterial District is: 610-779-5137. The fax number for 23-2-03 Magisterial District is: 610-779-4681.

23-2-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-2-04 is David L. Yoch . The 23-2-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1786 Welsh Road
Mohnton, PA 19540

The phone number for 23-2-04 Magisterial District is: 610-777-3885. The fax number for 23-2-04 Magisterial District is: 610-796-0227.

23-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-01 is David E. Glass . The 23-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

Matthew Brooke Professional Building, Suite 180
321 North Furnace Street
Birdsboro, PA 19508

The phone number for 23-3-01 Magisterial District is: 610-582-8615. The fax number for 23-3-01 Magisterial District is: 610-582-2598.

23-3-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-02 is Michael G. Hartman . The 23-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

100 Schaeffer Street, Suite 2
Boyertown, PA 19512

The phone number for 23-3-02 Magisterial District is: 610-367-2357. The fax number for 23-3-02 Magisterial District is: 610-369-0264.

23-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-03 is Steven M. Chieffo . The 23-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

26 Scholl Drive
PO Box 18
Oley, PA 19547

The phone number for 23-3-03 Magisterial District is: 610-987-3344. The fax number for 23-3-03 Magisterial District is: 610-987-3067.

23-3-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-04 is Gail M. Greth . The 23-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

110 West Arch Street, Suite 118
Fleetwood, PA 19522

The phone number for 23-3-04 Magisterial District is: 610-944-7202. The fax number for 23-3-04 Magisterial District is: 610-944-5471.

23-3-05

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-05 is Brian K. Strand . The 23-3-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

2739 Bernville Road
Leesport, PA 19533

The phone number for 23-3-05 Magisterial District is: 610-916-4496. The fax number for 23-3-05 Magisterial District is: 610-916-1662.

23-3-06

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-06 is Kim L. Bagenstose . The 23-3-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

61 North Third Street, Second Floor
Hamburg, PA 19526

The phone number for 23-3-06 Magisterial District is: 610-562-4364. The fax number for 23-3-06 Magisterial District is: 610-562-5962.

23-3-07

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-07 is Andrea J. Book . The 23-3-07 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

7191 Bernville Road
Bernville, PA 19506

The phone number for 23-3-07 Magisterial District is: 610-488-6224. The fax number for 23-3-07 Magisterial District is: 610-488-0579.

23-3-09

The Magisterial District Judge for 23-3-09 is Tonya A. Butler . The 23-3-09 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

2312 Fairmont Avenue, Suite 500
Reading, PA 19605

The phone number for 23-3-09 Magisterial District is: 610-373-4424. The fax number for 23-3-09 Magisterial District is: 610-373-8297.

Types of cases handled in Small Claims Court in Berks County

Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Berks County: negligence and contract actions. A breach of contract action is where parties enter into an agreement that can be either oral or in writing. Contracts are common and used in a wide variety of situations including between:

  • contractors and homeowner to make improvements
  • insurance companies to provide insurance services
  • credit services between a credit card company and a consumer

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. Negligence is where a party that is supposed to act with reasonable care fails to do so and someone else is injured from that. 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).

After the Berks 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 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. The plaintiff can also appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision if the judge ruled for the defendant at the hearing.