Filing a Case in Mifflin 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. 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 Mifflin County
Most cases filed in small claims court in Mifflin 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 common and used in a wide variety of situations including between:
- 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 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.
Magisterial District Court in Mifflin County
Mifflin County has 3 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 58-3-01 is Jack E. Miller . The 58-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:103 West Market Street, Suite 1 PO Box 88 Lewistown, PA 17044
The phone number for 58-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-248-8408. The fax number for 58-3-01 Magisterial District is: 717-248-1007.
The Magisterial District Judge for 58-3-02 is Jonathan W. Reed . The 58-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:7 Ort Valley Road, Suite A Lewistown, PA 17044
The phone number for 58-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-248-2607. The fax number for 58-3-02 Magisterial District is: 717-248-0568.
The Magisterial District Judge for 58-3-03 is Kent A. Smith . The 58-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:96 South Main Street PO Box 580 Reedsville, PA 17084
The phone number for 58-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-667-9626. The fax number for 58-3-03 Magisterial District is: 717-667-3767.
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Mifflin 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.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Mifflin County
You should send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment before filing your claim. A demand letter can be the cheapest and quickest way of resolving your situation. Make sure you set a reasonable deadline in your letter for the defendant to comply by. If the defendant does not agree to the terms in your letter (or fails to respond), you may consider filing your case. It is also important to know the name and address of the party you wish to file your action against. The court is unable to accept a P.O. Box. It needs a physical 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:
- 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. While at the courthouse, the plaintiff can pay the filing fees. 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 certified mail is cheaper but might not be as quick as personal service by a sheriff or constable.
Mifflin County Small Claims Court
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. 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 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 wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.
Where to File a Small Claims Court Case?
The Pennsylvania courts are divided by county and then 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 was signed or where the contract was supposed to be performed
- the accident occurred
- the goods involved are permanently 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 can be paid by the plaintiff when the case is actually filed. 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).
After the Judge Makes a Decision
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. 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.
Mifflin 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). 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. 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). At the beginning of the case (or calendar), the Magisterial District Judge will usually briefly explain the procedures used at the hearing. The plaintiff and defendant will both be sworn in to present testimony to the judge. At the hearing, the judge will give the plaintiff an opportunity to testify about the circumstances surrounding the case. During this time, the plaintiff should present any evidence supporting the case including paperwork, receipts, records, photographs, or videos of the case. The plaintiff will probably also be asked questions by the defendant. 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 defendant can also bring witnesses to provide testimony to the judge as well. Once all the evidence has been presented, the judge will either make a decision at the hearing or within five days.