Carbon County Magisterial District Court Small Claims 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. 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. At the hearing, there will usually be the judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for both sides. The courtroom is open to the public so anybody may be sitting in the gallery of the courtroom as well. 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. During the hearing, the plaintiff will be given an opportunity to testify about what happened that caused the plaintiff to file the claim. 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 done, the witnesses that the plaintiff brought will also be given a chance to provide testimony. The defendant will also be granted the opportunity to ask questions of these witnesses as well. 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.
After the Carbon 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). Also, the defendant has thirty days to file an appeal to the Common Pleas Court. A Notice of Appeal needs to be filed 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 plaintiff does not prevail at the initial hearing, the plaintiff has the option of appealing the Magisterial District Judge’s decision as well.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Carbon County Small Claims Court
Prior to filing a claim, it is recommended that you send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment. A demand letter can be the cheapest and quickest way of resolving your situation. Make sure you set a reasonable deadline in your letter for the defendant to comply 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 Magisterial Court cannot accept a post office box. If the party the plaintiff is suing is not an individual, the plaintiff needs to ascertain what corporate form the defendant is using as well as the name of that corporate entity. The Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau is a great resource for assisting with this task (Phone: 717-787-1057). Before going to the Magisterial District Court to file your claim, you should know the following information:
- name and address of the plaintiff
- name and address of the person you want to sue
- the amount of money you are filing your claim for (including all expenses)
- short statement of facts surrounding the circumstances of the case (including dates and locations)
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. 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). A Defendant can be served by certified mail or in person by a deputy 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).
Carbon County Magisterial Districts
Carbon County has 4 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 56-3-01 is Eric M. Schrantz . The 56-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:340 Center Avenue PO Box 356 Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
The phone number for 56-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-325-2751. The fax number for 56-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-325-5538.
The Magisterial District Judge for 56-3-02 is William J. Kissner . The 56-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:401 Delaware Avenue Palmerton, PA 18071
The phone number for 56-3-02 Magisterial District is: 610-826-3707. The fax number for 56-3-02 Magisterial District is: 610-826-6914.
The Magisterial District Judge for 56-3-03 is Casimir T. Kosciolek . The 56-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:417 East Ridge Street PO Box 203 Lansford, PA 18232
The phone number for 56-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-645-3024. The fax number for 56-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-645-5544.
The Magisterial District Judge for 56-3-04 is Joseph D. Homanko . The 56-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:200 Carbon Street Weatherly, PA 18255
The phone number for 56-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-427-4100. The fax number for 56-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-427-8730.
What is a Magisterial District Judge?
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).
Should I File in Carbon 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. The Common Pleas Court requires an attorney to handle your case. Magisterial District Court does not require an attorney.
Carbon County Small Claims Court Case Types
Most cases filed in small claims court in Carbon County are either considered a breach of contract case or a negligence case. A breach of contract case happens when two parties enter into a contract (oral or written) and one party fails to perform its obligations under the contract (either didn’t pay money or didn’t perform services or work). Contracts are used in many situations including:
- home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
- insurance companies to provide insurance 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 usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.
Carbon 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 party is not required to have an attorney for a small claims court case in a Magisterial District Court. A plaintiff cannot file a claim for more than $12,000. A filing fee is required and depends on the amount of money in dispute. 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.
Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?
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 occurred
- the property that the case is about is located
The plaintiff should contact the Magisterial District Court clerk to ensure it is the proper court for the case. The plaintiff can also inquire what the filing fee for the case will be. You will pay the filing fee when you file the Complaint 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.