Lancaster County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania


Should I File in Lancaster County Magisterial District Court

A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in 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.

Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?

The Pennsylvania courts are divided by county and then into districts. Each district has an elected Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed in the Magisterial District where:

  • the Defendant resides or where the business is located
  • the contract was signed or where the contract was supposed to be performed
  • the accident happened
  • 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 form “Civil Complaint” need to be completed by the plaintiff. Note: if you need to include confidential information in your complaint, it is important to use the Confidential Information Form found on the same page.

What is a Magisterial District Judge?

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.

Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Lancaster 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. Make sure you set a reasonable deadline in your letter for the defendant to comply by. If the demand letter does not resolve your case, you can consider filing your case. Before filing your case, you need to learn the name and address of the party you are filing your case against. The court is unable to accept a P.O. Box. It needs a physical 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. Before heading down to the courthouse to fill out your claim, you should have the following information:

  • plaintiff’s name and address
  • name and address of the defendant
  • 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 it is possible to file your claim through the mail, the plaintiff should file it in person at the courthouse with the clerk, so the clerk can let the plaintiff know if there are any problems with the claim. 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. Your complaint can be served on the defendant either by certified mail or by a 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).

Lancaster County Magisterial District Court Hearing

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. 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. The hearing is open to the public and usually includes the following: judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for either party. The courtroom is open to the public so anybody may be sitting in the gallery of the courtroom as well. 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. 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 done, the witnesses that the plaintiff brought will also be given a chance to provide testimony. The defendant will also be granted the opportunity 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 defendant will also be allowed to present testimony from any witnesses that he or she brought. Once all the evidence has been presented, the judge will either make a decision at the hearing or within five days.

Magisterial District Court in Lancaster County

Lancaster County has 19 Magisterial Districts which are:

02-1-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-1-01 is Adam J. Witkonis . The 02-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

641 Union Street
Lancaster, PA 17603

The phone number for 02-1-01 Magisterial District is: 717-299-7896. The fax number for 02-1-01 Magisterial District is: 717-390-2345.

02-1-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-1-02 is David P. Miller . The 02-1-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

2205 Oregon Pike
Lancaster, PA 17601

The phone number for 02-1-02 Magisterial District is: 717-569-8774. The fax number for 02-1-02 Magisterial District is: 717-569-8721.

02-1-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-1-03 is Miles K. Bixler . The 02-1-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

341 Chestnut Street
Columbia, PA 17512

The phone number for 02-1-03 Magisterial District is: 717-684-2761. The fax number for 02-1-03 Magisterial District is: 717-684-9774.

02-2-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-01 is Jodie E. Richardson . The 02-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

123 Locust Street (Rear)
Lancaster, PA 17602

The phone number for 02-2-01 Magisterial District is: 717-299-7974. The fax number for 02-2-01 Magisterial District is: 717-299-8375.

02-2-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-02 is Bruce A. Roth . The 02-2-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

150 North Queen Street, Suite 120
Lancaster, PA 17603

The phone number for 02-2-02 Magisterial District is: 717-295-2000. The fax number for 02-2-02 Magisterial District is: 717-209-3031.

02-2-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-03 is Mary Mongiovi Sponaugle . The 02-2-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1351 Elm Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603

The phone number for 02-2-03 Magisterial District is: 717-299-7898. The fax number for 02-2-03 Magisterial District is: 717-390-2346.

02-2-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-04 is Janice Jimenez . The 02-2-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

796-A New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17602

The phone number for 02-2-04 Magisterial District is: 717-299-7966. The fax number for 02-2-04 Magisterial District is: 717-390-2344.

02-2-05

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-05 is Brian E. Chudzik . The 02-2-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

2168 Embassy Drive, Suite 150
Lancaster, PA 17603

The phone number for 02-2-05 Magisterial District is: 717-898-2511. The fax number for 02-2-05 Magisterial District is: 717-898-3949.

02-2-06

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-06 is Joshua R. Keller . The 02-2-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

841 Stehman Road
Millersville, PA 17551

The phone number for 02-2-06 Magisterial District is: 717-872-4361. The fax number for 02-2-06 Magisterial District is: 717-872-1190.

02-2-07

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-07 is Tony S. Russell . The 02-2-07 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

609 East Main Street
Ephrata, PA 17522

The phone number for 02-2-07 Magisterial District is: 717-733-8688. The fax number for 02-2-07 Magisterial District is: 717-733-4330.

02-2-08

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-2-08 is Edward A. Tobin . The 02-2-08 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

690 Furnace Hills Pike
Lititz, PA 17543

The phone number for 02-2-08 Magisterial District is: 717-626-0258. The fax number for 02-2-08 Magisterial District is: 717-626-5528.

02-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-01 is Scott E. Albert . The 02-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

424 South Angle Street
Mount Joy, PA 17552

The phone number for 02-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-653-4575. The fax number for 02-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-653-0401.

02-3-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-02 is B. Denise Commins . The 02-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

15 Geist Road
Lancaster, PA 17601

The phone number for 02-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-656-2191. The fax number for 02-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-656-4425.

02-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-03 is William E. Benner . The 02-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

324 Beaver Valley Pike
Willow Street, PA 17584

The phone number for 02-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-464-4141. The fax number for 02-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-464-2824.

02-3-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-04 is Stuart J. Mylin . The 02-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

25 East State Street
Quarryville, PA 17566

The phone number for 02-3-04 Magisterial District is: 717-786-7368. The fax number for 02-3-04 Magisterial District is: 717-786-2072.

02-3-05

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-05 is Raymond S. Sheller . The 02-3-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

14 Center Street
PO Box 618
Intercourse, PA 17534

The phone number for 02-3-05 Magisterial District is: 717-768-3312. The fax number for 02-3-05 Magisterial District is: 717-768-3250.

02-3-06

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-06 is Jonathan W. Heisse . The 02-3-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

745B East Main Street
New Holland, PA 17557

The phone number for 02-3-06 Magisterial District is: 717-354-4206. The fax number for 02-3-06 Magisterial District is: 717-354-8881.

02-3-07

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-07 is Nancy G. Hamill . The 02-3-07 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

2 Cardinal Drive
Stevens, PA 17578

The phone number for 02-3-07 Magisterial District is: 717-336-2801. The fax number for 02-3-07 Magisterial District is: 717-336-3394.

02-3-09

The Magisterial District Judge for 02-3-09 is (Vacant) Duncan . The 02-3-09 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

920 South Spruce Street
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

The phone number for 02-3-09 Magisterial District is: 717-367-4330. The fax number for 02-3-09 Magisterial District is: 717-367-8019.

Lancaster County Small Claims Court

Lancaster County Small Claims Court

Lancaster 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. In Magisterial District Court, a party is not required to have an attorney. 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.

After the Lancaster 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 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 (once filed) will be served on the Magisterial District Judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff. The Notice of Appeal prevents the plaintiff from collecting any money 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 Lancaster County

Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Lancaster County: negligence and contract actions. A contract is where two parties enter into an agreement (either written or oral). Contracts are common and used in a wide variety of situations including between:

  • homeowners and contractors to make repairs
  • insurance companies to provide insurance services
  • credit services between a credit card company and a consumer

Breach of contract occurs when one party does not complete what they are required to do 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. These actions usually include traffic accidents or other types of situations resulting in personal injury or property damage.