Where Should I File a Clinton 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 can be paid by the plaintiff when the case is actually filed. The plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” If the plaintiff plans to include information that could be deemed confidential, the plaintiff needs to complete the Confidential Information Form (which is found on the same page).
Steps Before Filing a Case in Clinton 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. Be sure to include a deadline that is reasonable in your demand letter. 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. 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. For help determining the proper name, you should contact Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau online or by phone at 717-787-1057. Before going to the Magisterial District Court to file your claim, you should know the following information:
- plaintiff’s name and address
- defendant’s name and address
- 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)
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. The plaintiff can also pay the filing fee in person at the courthouse. The plaintiff will also have to pay for a cost to serve the defendant. A Defendant can be served by certified mail or in person by a deputy sheriff or constable. Personal service can be more expensive than certified mail but can be quicker than certified mail.
After the Clinton 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 file an appeal at the 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 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 judge rules for the defendant, the plaintiff can appeal this decision as well.
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Clinton County
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).
Small Claims Court Hearings in Clinton 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. Plan on having any witnesses that can support your position ready to be 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. 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. 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. 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. Once all the evidence has been presented, the judge will either make a decision at the hearing or within five days.
Small Claims Court in Clinton County
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. A party is not required to have an attorney for a small claims court case in a Magisterial District Court. 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). 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.
Clinton County Small Claims Court Case Types
Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Clinton 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:
- home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
- 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). A negligence case occurs when a party who is responsible to protect someone or something using due care, fails to do so. 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).
Filing a Case in Clinton 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. Additionally, you need an attorney to file your case in the court of common pleas. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
Magisterial District Court in Clinton County
Clinton County has 3 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 25-3-01 is Keith G. Kibler . The 25-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:301 Frederick Street, Suite 100 Lock Haven, PA 17745
The phone number for 25-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-893-4086. The fax number for 25-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-893-4060.
The Magisterial District Judge for 25-3-02 is John W. Maggs . The 25-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:385 Beech Creek Avenue PO Box 174 Mill Hall, PA 17751
The phone number for 25-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-726-4064. The fax number for 25-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-726-7920.
The Magisterial District Judge for 25-3-03 is Frank P. Mills . The 25-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:112 Ninth Street Renovo, PA 17764
The phone number for 25-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-923-9931. The fax number for 25-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-923-1218.