Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Snyder County
A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in Common Pleas Court. But, the Magisterial District Courts are less formal, less expensive, and faster than common pleas courts. Additionally, you need an attorney to file your case in the court of common pleas. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?
The Pennsylvania courts are divided by county and then into districts. Each district has an elected Magisterial District Judge. A case should be filed 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 damage or accident involved 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. 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 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.
Snyder 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. The hearing is open to the public and usually includes the following: judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for either party. 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). Both parties will be sworn in to provide testimony. 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 court will then give the Defendant a chance to ask questions to the plaintiff. 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 also be granted the opportunity 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 defendant can also bring witnesses to provide testimony to the judge as well. The judge will usually make a decision at the hearing (or within five days).
Snyder County Magisterial District Court Appeal
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 (once filed) will be served on the Magisterial District Judge (who made the decision) and 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.
Snyder County Small Claims Court Case Types
Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Snyder County: negligence and contract actions. 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 frequently and arise in many contexts including:
- home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
- insurance companies and their insureds to provide services
- credit services between a credit card company and a consumer
A breach of contract is when one party does not do what they promised under the agreement (pay money or provide services usually). A negligence case occurs when a party who is responsible to protect someone or something using due care, fails to do so. These actions usually include traffic accidents or other types of situations resulting in personal injury or property damage.
Steps Before Filing a Case in Snyder County Small Claims Court
Before you file a claim, you should send a letter to the defendant demanding payment (or whatever property you are seeking). A demand letter can be the cheapest and quickest way of resolving your situation. Be sure to include a deadline that is reasonable in your demand letter. If the defendant does not agree to your demands, then you may consider filing your case once the deadline has passed. 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 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:
- your name and address
- defendant’s name and address
- the amount of the claim
- 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, 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). 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).
Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Snyder 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.
Magisterial District Court in Snyder County
Snyder County has 2 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 17-3-03 is John H. Reed . The 17-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:1025 U.S. Route 522 Selinsgrove, PA 17870
The phone number for 17-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-374-0111. The fax number for 17-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-374-2771.
The Magisterial District Judge for 17-3-04 is Lori R. Hackenberg . The 17-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:32 East Market Street Middleburg, PA 17842
The phone number for 17-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-837-4213. The fax number for 17-3-04 Magisterial District is: 570-837-4355.
Small Claims Court in Snyder County
Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. A party is not required to have an attorney for a small claims court case in a Magisterial District Court. The claim, or amount in controversy, cannot exceed $12,000.00. The plaintiff is required to file a filing fee when filing the complaint. In addition to the filing fee, the plaintiff will need to pay for the defendant(s) to be served. If the plaintiff prevails in the case, these costs can be recovered from the defendant.