Small Claims Court Hearings in Clearfield County Magisterial District Court
Once the claim has been filed, the clerk will set a hearing between 12 and 60 days from the date of the filing of the claim. Before the hearing, both parties should gather all documents and papers related to the 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. 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). The judge will explain the procedures at the beginning of the case (or at the beginning of the docket if there are multiple cases set for a hearing on the same day). 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 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 court will then give the Defendant a chance to ask questions to the plaintiff. After the plaintiff is finished, the court will give the plaintiff a chance to present testimony from any other witnesses brought to testify. 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 defendant can also bring witnesses to provide testimony to the judge as well. After all the evidence has been presented, the judge will make a decision (either at the hearing or within five days).
Should I File in Clearfield County Magisterial District Court
Claims for $12,000 or less can also be filed in a court called common pleas court. But, the Common Pleas Court is more formal and expensive than Magisterial District Court. Also, you need an attorney to file your case in common pleas court. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
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).
Steps Before Filing a Case in Clearfield 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 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 defendant does not agree to your demands, then you may consider filing your case once the deadline has passed. Prior to filing your claim, you need to ascertain the name and physical address of the party you intend to sue. 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:
- name and address of the plaintiff
- name and address of the person you want to sue
- the dollar amount of damages
- 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. 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.
Clearfield County Magisterial District Court Appeal
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 there is an appeal, a Notice of Appeal is filed with the prothonotary in 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.
Clearfield County Magisterial Districts
Clearfield County has 4 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 46-3-01 is Patrick N. Ford . The 46-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:309 Maple Avenue PO Box 452 DuBois, PA 15801
The phone number for 46-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-371-5321. The fax number for 46-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-371-5323.
The Magisterial District Judge for 46-3-02 is Joseph M. Morris . The 46-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:900 Leonard Street Clearfield, PA 16830
The phone number for 46-3-02 Magisterial District is: 814-765-5335. The fax number for 46-3-02 Magisterial District is: 814-765-0386.
The Magisterial District Judge for 46-3-03 is Jerome M. Nevling . The 46-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:131 Rolling Stone Road PO Box 210 Kylertown, PA 16847
The phone number for 46-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-345-6789. The fax number for 46-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-345-6444.
The Magisterial District Judge for 46-3-04 is James B. Glass . The 46-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:251 Spring Street, Suite 3 PO Box 362 Houtzdale, PA 16651
The phone number for 46-3-04 Magisterial District is: 814-378-7160. The fax number for 46-3-04 Magisterial District is: 814-378-7165.
Where Should I File a Clearfield County Small Claims Court Case?
Each county in Pennsylvania (except for Philadelphia) is divided into districts. Each district has a Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed in the Magisterial District where:
- the Defendant resides or where the business is located
- the contract involved was signed or performance was made
- the damage or accident involved happened
- the property from the case is 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 will be paid when the Complaint is filed with the court. The plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” 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.
Clearfield County Small Claims Court Case Types
Most cases filed in small claims court in Clearfield County are either considered a breach of contract case or a negligence case. A breach of contract action is where parties enter into an agreement that can be either oral or in writing. Contracts are used frequently and arise in many contexts including:
- home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
- insurance services between an insurance company and a consumer
- 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). 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 usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.
Small Claims Court in Clearfield County
Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. In Magisterial District Court, a party is not required to have an attorney. 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. These costs can potentially be recovered by you if you win the case.