Fayette 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). 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. 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 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.
What does a Magisterial District Judge Handle?
A Magisterial District Judge has jurisdiction over the following cases: preliminary hearings and preliminary arraignments in criminal cases, traffic offenses, municipal code violations, landlord/tenant cases and cases where the amount sought does not exceed $12,000.00.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Fayette 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 demand letter does not resolve your case, you can consider filing your case. Prior to filing your claim, you need to ascertain the name and physical address of the party you intend to sue. The court clerk is unable to accept a Post Office Box for an address. 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). The plaintiff should have the following information available before heading to the courthouse to complete the claim:
- your name and address
- 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)
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. Additionally, you can pay the filing costs in person (which can be recovered if you prevail in your lawsuit). 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.
Where to File a Small Claims Court Case?
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 for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
- the accident occurred
- the property that the case is about is located
Once you locate what the appropriate court should be, you should contact the court to determine whether it is the appropriate place to file your claim. The plaintiff can also inquire what the filing fee for the case 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).
Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Fayette County
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. In Magisterial District Court, an attorney is not required.
Fayette County Magisterial Districts
Fayette County has 7 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-1-01 is Michael M. Metros . The 14-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:88 North Gallatin Avenue Uniontown, PA 15401
The phone number for 14-1-01 Magisterial District is: 724-439-2954. The fax number for 14-1-01 Magisterial District is: 724-434-2787.
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-1-02 is Ronald J. Haggerty . The 14-1-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:404 South Pittsburgh Street Connellsville, PA 15425
The phone number for 14-1-02 Magisterial District is: 724-628-8060. The fax number for 14-1-02 Magisterial District is: 724-628-0631.
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-2-01 is Jennifer L. Jeffries . The 14-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:362 South Mount Vernon Avenue Uniontown, PA 15401
The phone number for 14-2-01 Magisterial District is: 724-439-2644. The fax number for 14-2-01 Magisterial District is: 724-434-2780.
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-2-02 is Nathan A. Henning . The 14-2-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:521 Johnston Avenue Uniontown, PA 15401
The phone number for 14-2-02 Magisterial District is: 724-437-0557. The fax number for 14-2-02 Magisterial District is: 724-434-2769.
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-2-03 is Michael J. Defino . The 14-2-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:113C Thornton Road Brownsville, PA 15417
The phone number for 14-2-03 Magisterial District is: 724-785-6966. The fax number for 14-2-03 Magisterial District is: 724-785-7402.
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-3-02 is Daniel C. Shimshock . The 14-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1 East Church Avenue Masontown, PA 15461
The phone number for 14-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-583-1620. The fax number for 14-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-583-1624.
The Magisterial District Judge for 14-3-04 is Richard A. Kasunic . The 14-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:3177 Pittsburgh Road PO Box 409 Star Junction, PA 15482
The phone number for 14-3-04 Magisterial District is: 724-736-0570. The fax number for 14-3-04 Magisterial District is: 724-736-0575.
Fayette County Small Claims Court Case Types
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 used in many situations including:
- contractors and homeowner to make improvements
- insurance services between an insurance company and a consumer
- credit services between a credit card company and a consumer
Breach of contract is where a party to a contract either doesn’t pay or doesn’t perform what they are supposed to under the contract. 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 usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.
Small Claims Court Hearings in Fayette County Magisterial District Court
Once you file your claim, the clerk will schedule a hearing (usually between 12 and 60 days from the date you filed your 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). 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. During the hearing, the plaintiff will be given an opportunity to testify about what happened that caused the plaintiff to file the claim. 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 defendant will have the opportunity to ask questions of 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. Once the plaintiff is done, the defendant will have a chance to present testimony (and the plaintiff can ask questions of 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.
Fayette 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 lawyer is not required. The claim, or amount in controversy, cannot exceed $12,000.00. The plaintiff is required to file a filing fee when filing the complaint. There is also an additional cost for serving the defendant with the claim. If the plaintiff wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.