Lehigh County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania


Magisterial District Court in Lehigh County

Lehigh County has 14 Magisterial Districts which are:

31-1-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-01 is Patricia M. Engler . The 31-1-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1201 Sumner Avenue
Allentown, PA 18102

The phone number for 31-1-01 Magisterial District is: 610-432-3080. The fax number for 31-1-01 Magisterial District is: 610-433-0130.

31-1-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-02 is Rashid O. Santiago . The 31-1-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1101 West Hamilton Street, Suite 150
Allentown, PA 18101

The phone number for 31-1-02 Magisterial District is: 610-432-8700. The fax number for 31-1-02 Magisterial District is: 610-432-0140.

31-1-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-03 is Ronald S. Manescu . The 31-1-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1428 West Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101

The phone number for 31-1-03 Magisterial District is: 610-434-7903. The fax number for 31-1-03 Magisterial District is: 610-434-0213.

31-1-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-04 is David M. Howells . The 31-1-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1501 Lehigh Street, Suite 104
Allentown, PA 18103

The phone number for 31-1-04 Magisterial District is: 610-797-0906. The fax number for 31-1-04 Magisterial District is: 610-797-3292.

31-1-05

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-05 is Michael D. D’Amore . The 31-1-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1007 Union Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18109

The phone number for 31-1-05 Magisterial District is: 610-439-0661. The fax number for 31-1-05 Magisterial District is: 610-439-1257.

31-1-06

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-06 is Wayne Maura . The 31-1-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

Canal Plaza
565 West Lehigh Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018

The phone number for 31-1-06 Magisterial District is: 610-691-3950. The fax number for 31-1-06 Magisterial District is: 610-691-0471.

31-1-07

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-07 is (Vacant) Halal . The 31-1-07 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

3678 Crescent Court East
Whitehall, PA 18052

The phone number for 31-1-07 Magisterial District is: 610-437-6096. The fax number for 31-1-07 Magisterial District is: 610-437-3462.

31-1-08

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-1-08 is Michael J. Pochron . The 31-1-08 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

3000 South Pike Avenue, Suite A
Allentown, PA 18103

The phone number for 31-1-08 Magisterial District is: 610-797-8724. The fax number for 31-1-08 Magisterial District is: 610-791-1401.

31-2-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-2-01 is Karen C. Devine . The 31-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

501 West Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101

The phone number for 31-2-01 Magisterial District is: 610-782-3834. The fax number for 31-2-01 Magisterial District is: 610-770-3863.

31-2-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-2-02 is Jacob E. Hammond . The 31-2-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

3404 Hamilton Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18103

The phone number for 31-2-02 Magisterial District is: 610-434-2070. The fax number for 31-2-02 Magisterial District is: 610-434-0215.

31-2-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-2-03 is Donna R. Butler . The 31-2-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

106 Main Street
Emmaus, PA 18049

The phone number for 31-2-03 Magisterial District is: 610-967-2888. The fax number for 31-2-03 Magisterial District is: 610-966-5686.

31-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-3-01 is Thomas C. Creighton . The 31-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

106 South Walnut Street
Slatington, PA 18080

The phone number for 31-3-01 Magisterial District is: 610-767-8641. The fax number for 31-3-01 Magisterial District is: 610-767-0164.

31-3-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-3-02 is Michael J. Faulkner . The 31-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

Green Hills Commerce Center
5925 Tilghman Street, Suite 500
Allentown, PA 18104

The phone number for 31-3-02 Magisterial District is: 610-398-1167. The fax number for 31-3-02 Magisterial District is: 610-398-2185.

31-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 31-3-03 is Daniel C. Trexler . The 31-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

Village Center
21 North Main Street
Coopersburg, PA 18036

The phone number for 31-3-03 Magisterial District is: 610-282-1555. The fax number for 31-3-03 Magisterial District is: 610-282-2642.

Lehigh County Magisterial District Court Appeal

If the plaintiff wins at the hearing, the judge may set up a twelve month installment plan for payments from the Defendant. 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. The Notice of Appeal will be served on the Magisterial District Judge who made the decision along with the plaintiff. The plaintiff cannot take any steps to collect money from the Defendant based on the Magisterial District Court’s judgment until the appeal has been decided. If the judge rules for the defendant, the plaintiff can appeal this decision as well.

Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Lehigh County Magisterial District 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. 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 (717-787-1057) can assist with learning this information. The plaintiff should have the following information available before heading to the courthouse to complete the claim:

  • name and address of the plaintiff
  • defendant’s name and address
  • the amount of money you are filing your claim for (including all expenses)
  • 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. 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. The plaintiff can have the claim served on the defendant by certified mail or personally 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).

Small Claims Court Hearings in Lehigh 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). 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. 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). 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 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. 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. The judge will usually make a decision at the hearing (or within five days).

Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Lehigh County

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.

Types of cases handled in Small Claims Court in Lehigh County

Most cases filed in small claims court in Lehigh County are either considered a breach of contract case or a negligence case. 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 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. A negligence case occurs when a party who is responsible to protect someone or something using due care, fails to do so. Negligence actions usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.

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.

Where Should I File a Lehigh County Small Claims Court Case?

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 Defendant resides or where the business is located
  • the contract for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
  • 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 can also inquire what the filing fee for the case will be. The filing fee will be paid when the Complaint is filed with the court. 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.

Lehigh County Small Claims Court

Lehigh County Small Claims Court

Lehigh County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. In Magisterial District Court, a party is not required to have an attorney. A plaintiff cannot file a claim for more than $12,000. 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.