Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Schuylkill 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. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Schuylkill 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.
Schuylkill County Magisterial District Court Small Claims 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. 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. 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 hearing, the Magisterial District Judge will explain the procedures. Both parties will be sworn in to provide testimony. During the hearing, the plaintiff will be given an opportunity to testify about what happened that caused the plaintiff to file the claim. 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 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. 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 defendant will also be allowed to present testimony from any witnesses that he or she brought. The judge will usually make a decision at the hearing (or within five days).
Small Claims Court in Schuylkill County
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. A lawyer is not required. 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. There may also be an additional cost for serving the Defendant. If the plaintiff wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.
Schuylkill 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 services between an insurance company and a consumer
- credit card companies and credit card holders to provide credit services
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 Schuylkill County
Schuylkill County has 7 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-2-01 is Christina E. Hale . The 21-2-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:619 West Oak Street Frackville, PA 17931
The phone number for 21-2-01 Magisterial District is: 570-874-1704. The fax number for 21-2-01 Magisterial District is: 570-874-2360.
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-3-01 is David A. Plachko . The 21-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Borough Building 301 Second Street PO Box 13 Port Carbon, PA 17965
The phone number for 21-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-628-5351. The fax number for 21-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-628-5394.
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-3-03 is James R. Ferrier . The 21-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:209 North Warren Street, Second Floor PO Box 189 Orwigsburg, PA 17961
The phone number for 21-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-366-0244. The fax number for 21-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-366-8901.
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-3-04 is David J. Rossi . The 21-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:19 North Pine Street PO Box 25 Tremont, PA 17981
The phone number for 21-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-695-3128. The fax number for 21-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-695-2606.
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-3-05 is Anthony J. Kilker . The 21-3-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:33 South Main Street Shenandoah, PA 17976
The phone number for 21-3-05 Magisterial District is: 570-462-2680. The fax number for 21-3-05 Magisterial District is: 570-462-2682.
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-3-06 is Stephen J. Bayer . The 21-3-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:320 East Broad Street (Rear) Tamaqua, PA 18252
The phone number for 21-3-06 Magisterial District is: 570-668-3535. The fax number for 21-3-06 Magisterial District is: 570-668-1750.
The Magisterial District Judge for 21-3-07 is James K. Reiley . The 21-3-07 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:200 East Arch Street, Suite 125 Pottsville, PA 17901
The phone number for 21-3-07 Magisterial District is: 570-622-9181. The fax number for 21-3-07 Magisterial District is: 570-628-6815.
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. Also, the defendant has thirty days to file an appeal to the Common Pleas Court. A Notice of Appeal needs to be filed with the prothonotary at the county courthouse. The Notice of Appeal (once filed) will be served on the Magisterial District Judge (who made the decision) and 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 Schuylkill County Magisterial District 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. In addition to the amount you are requesting, you should also set a reasonable deadline for the defendant to respond by. If the defendant does not agree to your demands, then you may consider filing your case once the deadline has passed. 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:
- name and address of the plaintiff
- 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)
While you can submit your claim through the mail, it is recommended that you file it in person so the clerk can let you know in person whether the form has been properly completed. 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, 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). 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).
Where Should I File a Schuylkill County Small Claims Court Case?
Each county in Pennsylvania (except for Philadelphia) is 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 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 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 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).