Fulton County Small Claims Court
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. A lawyer is not required. A plaintiff cannot file a claim for more than $12,000. The plaintiff is required to file a filing fee when filing the complaint. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff will need to pay for the defendant(s) to be served. If the plaintiff wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.
After the Fulton County Magisterial District Court Hearing
If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the judge may set up a 12 month installment plan for the Defendant to make payments. The defendant has thirty days to appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision to 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.
Filing a Case in Fulton 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. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
Fulton County Magisterial District 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. 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. 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 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 have the chance to ask questions for these witnesses too. Once the plaintiff is done, the defendant will have a chance to present testimony (and the plaintiff can ask questions of the defendant). 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).
Fulton County Magisterial Districts
Fulton County has 3 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 39-4-01 is Devin C. Horne . The 39-4-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:27952 Great Cove Road, Suite 1 PO Box 369 Hustontown, PA 17229
The phone number for 39-4-01 Magisterial District is: 717-987-3221. The fax number for 39-4-01 Magisterial District is: 717-987-4172.
The Magisterial District Judge for 39-4-02 is Wendy Richards Mellott . The 39-4-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:208 North Second Street McConnellsburg, PA 17233
The phone number for 39-4-02 Magisterial District is: 717-485-4842. The fax number for 39-4-02 Magisterial District is: 717-485-5760.
The Magisterial District Judge for 39-4-03 is Tamela M. Heming . The 39-4-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:8328 Great Cove Road, Suite 100 PO Box 171 Needmore, PA 17238
The phone number for 39-4-03 Magisterial District is: 717-573-2225. The fax number for 39-4-03 Magisterial District is: 717-573-4401.
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Fulton 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).
Types of Cases in Fulton County Small Claims Court
A Magisterial District Judge generally hears negligence and breach of contract actions with respect to civil cases. A contract is where two parties enter into an agreement (either written or oral). Contracts are used frequently and arise in many contexts including:
- contractors and homeowner to make improvements
- insurance companies and their insureds to provide services
- 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. 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).
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. The plaintiff should file the case in the Magisterial District where:
- the Defendant lives (or where the business involved is located)
- the contract was signed or where the contract was supposed to be performed
- the accident happened
- the property from the case is kept
The plaintiff should contact the Magisterial District Court clerk to ensure it is the proper court for the case. You should also contact them to determine 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 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.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Fulton County
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. 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 court clerk is unable to accept a Post Office Box for an 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:
- plaintiff’s name and address
- defendant’s name and address
- the dollar amount of damages
- 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, the plaintiff will have to pay a fee to have the Defendant 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).