Where Should I File a Potter County 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 lives (or where the business involved is located)
- the contract for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
- the accident happened
- the property that the case is about is located
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 should also inquire from the clerk what the filing fee will be. You will pay the filing fee when you file the Complaint with the court. The form “Civil Complaint” need to be completed by the plaintiff. 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.
Filing a Case in Potter County Magisterial District Court
A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in 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. Magisterial District Court does not require an attorney.
Potter 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. Plan on having any witnesses that can support your position ready to be present in court on the date of the hearing. On the day of the hearing the courtroom will include the following: court clerk, judge, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses that either side intends to call. 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. The court will give the plaintiff a chance to present its case through testimony. The plaintiff can present papers, bills, records, receipts, photographs, or video to the judge. The plaintiff will probably also be asked questions by the defendant. 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. 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.
Types of cases handled in Small Claims Court in Potter County
Most cases filed in small claims court in Potter 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:
- homeowners and contractors to make repairs
- insurance companies and their insureds to provide 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 party that is supposed to act with reasonable care fails to do so and someone else is injured from that. Negligence actions usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.
After the Judge Makes a Decision
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 appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision to Common Pleas Court. If the defendant wishes to appeal, he or she must file a Notice of Appeal 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 Notice of Appeal will prevent the plaintiff from taking any steps to collect money from the defendant 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.
Potter 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. 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.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Potter County Small Claims 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 defendant does not agree to the terms in your letter (or fails to respond), you may consider filing your case. Prior to filing your claim, you need to ascertain the name and physical address of the party you intend to sue. 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 is a great resource for assisting with this task (Phone: 717-787-1057). Before going to the Magisterial District Court to file your claim, you should know the following information:
- your name and address
- name and address of the person you want to sue
- the dollar amount of damages
- 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. In addition to the filing fee, you will also have to pay for the cost for personal service of your claim on the defendant (which varies depending on how it is served). The plaintiff can have the claim served on the defendant by certified mail or personally by a sheriff or constable. Personal service can be more expensive than certified mail but can be quicker than certified mail.
What does a Magisterial District Judge Handle?
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).
Potter County Magisterial Districts
Potter County has 3 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 55-3-01 is Annette L. Easton . The 55-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:110 North East Street Coudersport, PA 16915
The phone number for 55-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-274-9411. The fax number for 55-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-274-9411.
The Magisterial District Judge for 55-4-01 is Kari A. McCleaft . The 55-4-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:221 West Academy Street PO Box 67 Shinglehouse, PA 16748
The phone number for 55-4-01 Magisterial District is: 814-697-6600. The fax number for 55-4-01 Magisterial District is: 814-697-7019.
The Magisterial District Judge for 55-4-03 is Christopher D. Kalacinski . The 55-4-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:11 Union Street Galeton, PA 16922
The phone number for 55-4-03 Magisterial District is: 814-435-2642. The fax number for 55-4-03 Magisterial District is: 814-435-1074.