Small Claims Court in Montour County
Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. A lawyer is not required. The amount of the claim you are filing cannot exceed $12,000.00. A filing fee is required and depends on the amount of money in dispute. 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.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Montour 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. In addition to the amount you are requesting, you should also set a reasonable deadline for the defendant to respond 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 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. The Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau is a great resource for assisting with this task (Phone: 717-787-1057). 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 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. 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).
Where Should I File a Montour County Small Claims Court Case?
Courts in Pennsylvania are divided into districts. Each district has a Magisterial District Judge. The plaintiff should file the case in the Magisterial District where:
- the business is located or where the defendant lives
- the contract for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
- 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 should also inquire from the clerk what the filing fee will be. The filing fee can be paid by the plaintiff when the case is actually filed. The plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” If the plaintiff intends to place confidential information on the “Civil Complaint,” the plaintiff also needs to complete the “Confidential Information Form” which is located on the same page.
Montour County Magisterial Districts
Montour County has 1 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 26-3-04 is Marvin K. Shrawder . The 26-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:30 Woodbine Lane, Suite 1 Danville, PA 17821
The phone number for 26-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-271-3022. The fax number for 26-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-271-3008.
Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Montour County
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. Magisterial District Court does not require an attorney.
Montour County Magisterial District Court Hearing
Once the claim has been filed, the clerk will set a hearing between 12 and 60 days from the date 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. 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. 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. Once the plaintiff is finished, any witnesses the plaintiff brought will be sworn and have the chance to testify as well. 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.
After the Montour 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). 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. A copy of the Notice of Appeal will be served on the judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff in the case. The Notice of Appeal prevents the plaintiff from collecting any money until the appeal is decided. The plaintiff can also appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision if the judge ruled for the defendant at the hearing.
Montour County Small Claims Court Case Types
A Magisterial District Judge generally hears negligence and breach of contract actions with respect to civil cases. 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:
- home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
- insurance companies to provide insurance services
- credit services between a credit card company and a consumer
Breach of contract is where a party to a contract either doesn’t pay or doesn’t perform what they are supposed to 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 is a Magisterial District Judge?
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).