Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Bradford County
A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in Common Pleas Court. But, the Magisterial District Courts are less formal, less expensive, and faster than common pleas courts. Also, you need an attorney to file your case in common pleas court. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
Small Claims Court Hearings in Bradford 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. At the hearing, there will usually be the judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for both sides. 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 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. 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 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 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 defendant will also be allowed to present testimony from any witnesses that he or she brought. The judge will usually make a decision at the hearing (or within five days).
Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Bradford County Magisterial District 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 cheapest and quickest way of resolving your situation. In addition to the amount you are requesting, you should also set a reasonable deadline for the defendant to respond by. If the demand letter does not resolve your case, you can consider filing your case. 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. 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). The plaintiff should have the following information available before heading to the courthouse to complete the claim:
- your name and address
- name and address of the defendant
- 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)
While it is possible to file your claim through the mail, the plaintiff should file it in person at the courthouse with the clerk, so the clerk can let the plaintiff know if there are any problems with the claim. 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, you will also have to pay for the cost for personal service of your claim on the defendant (which varies depending on how it is served). Your complaint can be served on the defendant either by certified mail or 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.
Bradford County Small Claims Court Case Types
Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Bradford County: negligence and contract actions. 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 and their insureds to provide services
- credit services between a credit card company and a consumer
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. These actions usually include traffic accidents or other types of situations resulting in personal injury or property damage.
Where Should I File a Bradford County Small Claims Court Case?
Each county in Pennsylvania (except for Philadelphia) is divided into districts. Each district has an elected Magisterial District Judge. The plaintiff should file the case 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 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 can also inquire what the filing fee for the case will be. The filing fee will be paid when the Complaint is filed with the court. The complaint form can be found under “Civil Complaint” here. 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.
Bradford County Magisterial District Court Appeal
If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the judge may set up a 12 month installment plan for the Defendant to make payments. The defendant has thirty days to appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision to Common Pleas Court. A Notice of Appeal needs to be filed with the prothonotary at the county courthouse. The Notice of Appeal (once filed) will be served on the Magisterial District Judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff. The Notice of Appeal prevents the plaintiff from collecting any money 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.
What does a Magisterial District Judge Handle?
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.
Magisterial District Court in Bradford County
Bradford County has 4 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 42-3-01 is Jonathan M. Wilcox . The 42-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:123 Canton Street Troy, PA 16947
The phone number for 42-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-297-3880. The fax number for 42-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-297-5071.
The Magisterial District Judge for 42-3-02 is Larry J. Hurley . The 42-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:75 Herrick Avenue Sayre, PA 18840
The phone number for 42-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-888-6324. The fax number for 42-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-888-5853.
The Magisterial District Judge for 42-3-03 is Todd A. Carr . The 42-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:200 Main Street Towanda, PA 18848
The phone number for 42-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-268-5057. The fax number for 42-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-268-0874.
The Magisterial District Judge for 42-3-04 is Fred M. Wheaton . The 42-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1959 Golden Mile Road Wysox, PA 18854
The phone number for 42-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-265-9393. The fax number for 42-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-265-2041.
Bradford 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 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 wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.