Somerset County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania


After the Somerset County Magisterial District Court Hearing

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. 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 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.

Magisterial District Court in Somerset County

Somerset County has 5 Magisterial Districts which are:

16-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 16-3-01 is Susan Mankamyer . The 16-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

200 Main Street
PO Box 55
Boswell, PA 15531

The phone number for 16-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-629-9775. The fax number for 16-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-629-6632.

16-3-02

The Magisterial District Judge for 16-3-02 is William E. Seger . The 16-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

509 15th Street
Windber, PA 15963

The phone number for 16-3-02 Magisterial District is: 814-467-5113. The fax number for 16-3-02 Magisterial District is: 814-467-4748.

16-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 16-3-03 is Kenneth W. Johnson . The 16-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

218 North Kimberly Avenue, Suite 200
Somerset, PA 15501

The phone number for 16-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-445-1535. The fax number for 16-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-445-1559.

16-3-05

The Magisterial District Judge for 16-3-05 is Sandra L. Stevanus . The 16-3-05 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

2924 New Centerville Road
Rockwood, PA 15557

The phone number for 16-3-05 Magisterial District is: 814-445-7442. The fax number for 16-3-05 Magisterial District is: 814-352-3101.

16-3-06

The Magisterial District Judge for 16-3-06 is Douglas McCall Bell . The 16-3-06 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

315 Grant Street
PO Box 203
Meyersdale, PA 15552

The phone number for 16-3-06 Magisterial District is: 814-634-0614. The fax number for 16-3-06 Magisterial District is: 814-634-8960.

Where Can a Small Claims Court Case Be Filed?

Courts in Pennsylvania are divided 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 accident occurred
  • the property that the case is about is located

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. You should also contact them to determine 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 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).

Somerset County Small Claims Court

Somerset County Small Claims Court

Somerset County Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court cases are handled in Pennsylvania at the Magisterial District Court. 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. These costs can potentially be recovered by you if you win the case.

Types of Cases in Somerset County Small Claims Court

Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Somerset County: negligence and contract actions. A contract is where two parties enter into an agreement (either written or oral). Contracts are used frequently and arise in many contexts including:

  • 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. 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.

Somerset County Magisterial District Court Hearing

After the claim is filed, the clerk will usually set a hearing between 12 and 60 days of the filing of the claim. Each party should gather all documents and papers related to the case before the hearing. 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). 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. 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. 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).

Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Somerset 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. The Common Pleas Court requires an attorney to handle your case. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.

Steps Before Filing a Case in Somerset County Small Claims Court

You should send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment before filing your claim. A demand letter can be the easiest and shortest way to resolve your case. 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. 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. If the party you intend on suing is not an individual, it is important to learn what corporate form the business is using. For help determining the proper name, you should contact Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau online or by phone at 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
  • 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. While at the courthouse, the plaintiff can pay the filing fees. 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. Personal service can be more expensive than certified mail but can be quicker than certified mail.

Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Somerset County

A Magisterial District Judge is a judge elected by the people of the district to handle certain types of cases including criminal (preliminary hearings and arraignments, traffic offenses, municipal code violations) and civil (landlord/tenant cases and cases where the amount in dispute does not exceed $12,000).