Small Claims Court Hearings in Lackawanna 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. Prior to the hearing, you should gather all documents and papers related to your case. Both the plaintiff and defendant should also arrange to have any witnesses with knowledge about the case present in court on the date of the hearing. On the day of the hearing the courtroom will include the following: court clerk, judge, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses that either side intends to call. The courtroom is open to the public so anybody may be sitting in the gallery of the courtroom as well. At the beginning of the case (or calendar), the Magisterial District Judge will usually briefly explain the procedures used at the hearing. Plaintiff and Defendant will both be sworn in at the beginning to present testimony to the court. During the hearing, the plaintiff will be given an opportunity to testify about what happened that caused the plaintiff to file the claim. 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. 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. 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.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Lackawanna 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 easiest and shortest way to resolve your case. Make sure you set a reasonable deadline in your letter for the defendant to comply 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 clerk is unable to accept a Post Office Box for an address. 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. 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 amount of the claim
- a short statement concerning why you believe you are entitled to that amount of money (you should include dates and enough information so the person you are suing knows why you are suing them)
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. 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. Your complaint can be served on the defendant either by certified mail or by a sheriff or constable. Personal service can be more expensive than certified mail but can be quicker than certified mail.
After the Judge Makes a Decision
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. A Notice of Appeal needs to be filed with the prothonotary at 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 in Small Claims Court in Lackawanna County
Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Lackawanna County: negligence and contract actions. A contract is where two parties enter into an agreement (either written or oral). Contracts are used in many situations including:
- contractors and homeowner to make improvements
- insurance companies and their insureds to provide services
- credit card companies when providing credit to consumers
Breach of contract occurs when one party does not complete what they are required to do 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).
Filing a Case in Lackawanna 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. In Magisterial District Court, an attorney is not required.
Lackawanna County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. A party is not required to have an attorney for a small claims court case in a Magisterial District Court. The claim, or amount in controversy, cannot exceed $12,000.00. A filing fee is required and depends on the amount of money in dispute. 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.
Magisterial District Court in Lackawanna County
Lackawanna County has 10 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-1-01 is George E. Seig . The 45-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1 Maxson Drive Old Forge, PA 18518
The phone number for 45-1-01 Magisterial District is: 570-457-3320. The fax number for 45-1-01 Magisterial District is: 570-457-3830.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-1-02 is Alyce M. Farrell . The 45-1-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:130 North Washington Avenue, First Floor Scranton, PA 18503
The phone number for 45-1-02 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6518. The fax number for 45-1-02 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6898.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-1-03 is Joanne P. Corbett . The 45-1-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1629 Pittston Avenue, First Floor Scranton, PA 18505
The phone number for 45-1-03 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6516. The fax number for 45-1-03 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6175.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-1-05 is Terrence V. Gallagher . The 45-1-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1600 Farr Street Scranton, PA 18504
The phone number for 45-1-05 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6504. The fax number for 45-1-05 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6505.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-1-06 is Paul J. Ware . The 45-1-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:2012 West Pine Street Dunmore, PA 18512
The phone number for 45-1-06 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6521. The fax number for 45-1-06 Magisterial District is: 570-963-6174.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-1-08 is John P. Pesota . The 45-1-08 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Lackawanna County Public Services Building 901 Enterprise Street, Second Floor Dickson City, PA 18519
The phone number for 45-1-08 Magisterial District is: 570-383-0421. The fax number for 45-1-08 Magisterial District is: 570-383-6934.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-3-01 is Paul Keeler . The 45-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:104 Shady Lane Road PO Box 427 Chinchilla, PA 18410
The phone number for 45-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-587-1909. The fax number for 45-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-587-8784.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-3-02 is Kipp E. Adcock . The 45-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:119 North Main Street Moscow, PA 18444
The phone number for 45-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-842-2111. The fax number for 45-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-842-9117.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-3-03 is Sean P. McGraw . The 45-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:38 North Main Street Carbondale, PA 18407
The phone number for 45-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-282-3181. The fax number for 45-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-282-9269.
The Magisterial District Judge for 45-3-04 is Laura M. Turlip . The 45-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Archbald Borough Building 400 Church Street, Second Floor Archbald, PA 18403
The phone number for 45-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-876-0570. The fax number for 45-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-876-6412.
Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?
Courts in Pennsylvania are 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 involved was signed or performance was made
- the accident occurred
- the goods involved are permanently kept
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 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 form “Civil Complaint” need to be completed by the plaintiff. 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).
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Lackawanna 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).