Cumberland County Small Claims Court Case Types
Most cases filed in small claims court in Cumberland 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 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 person or party has a responsibility to use reasonable care to protect others from damages and 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).
Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Cumberland County Magisterial District Court
Prior to filing a claim, it is recommended that you send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment. 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 the terms in your letter (or fails to respond), you may 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 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). Before going to the Magisterial District Court to file your claim, you should know the following information:
- plaintiff’s name and address
- name and address of the person you want to sue
- the dollar amount of damages
- short statement of facts surrounding the circumstances of the case (including dates and locations)
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). 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).
Magisterial District Court in Cumberland County
Cumberland County has 10 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-1-01 is Charles A. Clement . The 09-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:920 Linda Lane Camp Hill, PA 17011
The phone number for 09-1-01 Magisterial District is: 717-737-3434. The fax number for 09-1-01 Magisterial District is: 717-960-5534.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-1-02 is Elizabeth S. Beckley . The 09-1-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1901 State Street Camp Hill, PA 17011
The phone number for 09-1-02 Magisterial District is: 717-761-0583. The fax number for 09-1-02 Magisterial District is: 717-761-2233.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-1-03 is Michael P. Sanderson . The 09-1-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:98 South Enola Drive, Suite 1 Enola, PA 17025
The phone number for 09-1-03 Magisterial District is: 717-728-2805. The fax number for 09-1-03 Magisterial District is: 717-960-5543.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-2-01 is Paul M. Fegley . The 09-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:2260 Spring Road, Suite 3 Carlisle, PA 17013
The phone number for 09-2-01 Magisterial District is: 717-218-5250. The fax number for 09-2-01 Magisterial District is: 717-218-5253.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-2-02 is Jonathan R. Birbeck . The 09-2-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:20 North Hanover Street, Suite 106 Carlisle, PA 17013
The phone number for 09-2-02 Magisterial District is: 717-240-6564. The fax number for 09-2-02 Magisterial District is: 717-240-7821.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-3-01 is Harold Anthony Adams . The 09-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:35 West Orange Street Shippensburg, PA 17257
The phone number for 09-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-532-7676. The fax number for 09-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-532-3308.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-3-02 is Vivian J. Cohick . The 09-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:55 Penn Drive Newville, PA 17241
The phone number for 09-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-776-3187. The fax number for 09-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-776-9284.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-3-03 is Susan K. Day . The 09-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:229 Mill Street PO Box 167 Mount Holly Springs, PA 17065
The phone number for 09-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-486-7672. The fax number for 09-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-486-0224.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-3-04 is Kathryn H. Silcox . The 09-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:5275 East Trindle Road, Suite 110 Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
The phone number for 09-3-04 Magisterial District is: 717-697-2201. The fax number for 09-3-04 Magisterial District is: 717-960-5596.
The Magisterial District Judge for 09-3-05 is Mark W. Martin . The 09-3-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Barclay Building 507 North York Street Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
The phone number for 09-3-05 Magisterial District is: 717-766-4575. The fax number for 09-3-05 Magisterial District is: 717-766-2238.
Should I File in Cumberland 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. Also, you need an attorney to file your case in common pleas court. In Magisterial District Court, an attorney is not required.
Small Claims Court in Cumberland County
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. 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 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.
Cumberland 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. Prior to the hearing, you should gather all documents and papers related to your case. Plan on having any witnesses that can support your position ready to be present in court on the date of the hearing. The hearing is open to the public and usually includes the following: judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for either party. 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). Plaintiff and Defendant will both be sworn in at the beginning to present testimony to the court. The court will give the plaintiff a chance to present its case through testimony. During this time, the plaintiff should present any evidence supporting the case including paperwork, receipts, records, photographs, or videos of the case. 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 be given the chance to ask questions of these witnesses as well. 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 will also be allowed to present testimony from any witnesses that he or she brought. After all the evidence has been presented, the judge will make a decision (either at the hearing or within five days).
Where Should I File a Cumberland 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 accident occurred
- 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. You will pay the filing fee when you file the Complaint with the court. The complaint form can be found under “Civil Complaint” here. 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 Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Cumberland 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).
After the Cumberland 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. If there is an appeal, a Notice of Appeal is filed with the prothonotary in the county courthouse. A copy of the Notice of Appeal will be served on the judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff in the case. The Notice of Appeal prevents the plaintiff from collecting any money 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.