Small Claims Court in Mercer County
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. A lawyer is not required. 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. These costs can potentially be recovered by you if you win the case.
Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Mercer County Magisterial District Court
Prior to filing a claim, it is recommended that you send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment. 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 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. 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:
- your name and address
- name and address of the person you want to sue
- the amount of the claim
- 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. 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. 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).
Mercer County Magisterial Districts
Mercer County has 5 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 35-2-01 is Dennis M. Songer . The 35-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1217 Hall Avenue Sharon, PA 16146
The phone number for 35-2-01 Magisterial District is: 724-346-6541. The fax number for 35-2-01 Magisterial District is: 724-346-5090.
The Magisterial District Judge for 35-2-02 is Mary A. Odem . The 35-2-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:425 Idaho Street Farrell, PA 16121
The phone number for 35-2-02 Magisterial District is: 724-346-3591. The fax number for 35-2-02 Magisterial District is: 724-346-4798.
The Magisterial District Judge for 35-3-01 is Daniel W. Davis . The 35-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:123 West Market Street (Rear) Mercer, PA 16137
The phone number for 35-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-662-5230. The fax number for 35-3-01 Magisterial District is: 724-662-1725.
The Magisterial District Judge for 35-3-02 is D. Neil McEwen . The 35-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:
The phone number for 35-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-458-4931. The fax number for 35-3-02 Magisterial District is: 724-458-5415.
The Magisterial District Judge for 35-3-03 is Brian R. Arthur . The 35-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:14 North Race Street, Suite 1 Greenville, PA 16125
The phone number for 35-3-03 Magisterial District is: 724-588-3210. The fax number for 35-3-03 Magisterial District is: 724-588-4136.
Mercer 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. You should also arrange to have any witnesses that may support your position present on the date of the hearing so they can testify. 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). Plaintiff and Defendant will both be sworn in at the beginning to present testimony to the court. At the hearing, the judge will give the plaintiff an opportunity to testify about the circumstances surrounding the case. 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 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 be given the chance to ask questions of these witnesses as well. After the plaintiff is finished presenting his or her case, the court will allow the defendant a chance to present a defense (including testimony from 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. After all the evidence has been presented, the judge will make a decision (either at the hearing or within five days).
Mercer 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. The defendant has thirty days to file an appeal at 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. The plaintiff can also appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision if the judge ruled for the defendant at the hearing.
Types of Cases in Mercer County Small Claims Court
A Magisterial District Judge generally hears negligence and breach of contract actions with respect to civil cases. A breach of contract case happens when two parties enter into a contract (oral or written) and one party fails to perform its obligations under the contract (either didn’t pay money or didn’t perform services or work). Contracts are used in many situations including:
- contractors and homeowner to make improvements
- insurance companies to provide insurance services
- credit card companies and credit card holders to provide credit services
A breach of contract is when one party does not do what they promised under the agreement (pay money or provide services usually). 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 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 to File a Small Claims Court Case?
Courts in Pennsylvania are divided into districts. Each district has a Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed in the Magisterial District where:
- the Defendant resides or where the business is located
- the contract involved was signed or performance was made
- the accident happened
- 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 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 plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” 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.
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Mercer County
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.
Should I File in Mercer County Magisterial District Court
Claims for $12,000 or less can also be filed in a court called 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.