Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Butler County
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).
Butler County Small Claims Court
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. 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 prevails in the case, these costs can be recovered from the defendant.
Magisterial District Court in Butler County
Butler County has 7 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-1-01 is Kevin P. O’Donnell . The 50-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:121 Sunnyview Circle, Suite 101 Butler, PA 16001
The phone number for 50-1-01 Magisterial District is: 724-284-5370. The fax number for 50-1-01 Magisterial District is: 724-284-1306.
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-3-01 is William S. O’Donnell . The 50-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:520 Kelly Boulevard Slippery Rock, PA 16057
The phone number for 50-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-794-6221. The fax number for 50-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-794-1807.
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-3-02 is Lewis E. Stoughton . The 50-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Chicora Borough Building 112 North Main Street PO Box 249 Chicora, PA 16025
The phone number for 50-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-445-3366. The fax number for 50-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-445-7871.
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-3-03 is Sue E. Haggerty . The 50-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Dinnerbell Square 333 West Main Street, Suite 103 PO Box 94 Saxonburg, PA 16056
The phone number for 50-3-03 Magisterial District is: 724-352-9465. The fax number for 50-3-03 Magisterial District is: 724-352-4399.
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-3-04 is David T. Kovach . The 50-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:9028 Marshall Road Cranberry Township, PA 16066
The phone number for 50-3-04 Magisterial District is: 724-772-1717. The fax number for 50-3-04 Magisterial District is: 724-772-3217.
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-3-05 is William T. Fullerton . The 50-3-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:227 West Cunningham Street PO Box 1208 Butler, PA 16003
The phone number for 50-3-05 Magisterial District is: 724-431-4854. The fax number for 50-3-05 Magisterial District is: 724-431-4882.
The Magisterial District Judge for 50-3-06 is Wayne D. Seibel . The 50-3-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:202 East Main Street Evans City, PA 16033
The phone number for 50-3-06 Magisterial District is: 724-538-3960. The fax number for 50-3-06 Magisterial District is: 724-538-4238.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Butler 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. Before filing your case, you need to learn the name and address of the party you are filing your case against. The Magisterial Court cannot accept a post office box. 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:
- plaintiff’s 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 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, 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 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).
After the Butler County Magisterial District Court Hearing
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 (once filed) will be served on the Magisterial District Judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff. The plaintiff cannot take any steps to collect money from the Defendant based on the Magisterial District Court’s judgment until the appeal has been decided. If the judge rules for the defendant, the plaintiff can appeal this decision as well.
Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?
The Pennsylvania courts are divided by county and then into districts. Each district has a Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed in the Magisterial District where:
- the business is located or where the defendant lives
- the contract for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
- the accident 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. 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.
Types of Cases in Butler County Small Claims Court
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 common and used in a wide variety of situations including between:
- homeowners and contractors to make repairs
- insurance companies and their insureds to provide services
- credit card companies and credit card holders to provide credit services
A breach of contract is when one party does not do what they promised under the agreement (pay money or provide services usually). Negligence is where a party that is supposed to act with reasonable care fails to do so and someone else is injured from that. These actions usually include traffic accidents or other types of situations resulting in personal injury or property damage.
Should I File in Butler 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.
Small Claims Court Hearings in Butler 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. Prior to the hearing, you should gather all documents and papers related to your case. You should also arrange to have any witnesses that may support your position present on the date of the hearing so they can testify. 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 hearing, the Magisterial District Judge will explain the procedures. The plaintiff and defendant will both be sworn in to present testimony to the judge. 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 court will then give the Defendant a chance to ask questions to 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 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 judge will also give the defendant a chance to have any witnesses that he or she brought to present testimony as well. The judge will usually make a decision at the hearing (or within five days).