Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Sullivan County
Claims for $12,000 or less can also be filed at the Common Pleas Court. However, the Magisterial District Court is not as formal and is cheaper than a case in common pleas court. Also, you need an attorney to file your case in common pleas court. Magisterial District Court does not require an attorney.
Small Claims Court Hearings in Sullivan County Magisterial District Court
After the claim is filed, the clerk will usually set a hearing between 12 and 60 days 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. 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. 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 court will then give the Defendant a chance to ask questions to the plaintiff. Once the plaintiff is done, the witnesses that the plaintiff brought will also be given a chance to provide testimony. 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 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.
Sullivan County Magisterial District Court Appeal
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 (once filed) will be served on the Magisterial District Judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff. 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.
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
The plaintiff should contact the Magisterial District Court clerk to ensure it is the proper court for the case. 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.
Sullivan County Small Claims Court Case Types
Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Sullivan County: negligence and contract actions. A breach of contract action is where parties enter into an agreement that can be either oral or in writing. Contracts are common and used in a wide variety of situations including between:
- contractors and homeowner to make improvements
- insurance services between an insurance company and a consumer
- credit card companies and credit card holders to provide credit services
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 generally include traffic accidents on the road and can include an actions for personal injuries (pain and suffering to a person) and property damage (generally to a car or other property).
Magisterial District Court in Sullivan County
Sullivan County has 1 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 44-3-03 is Jennifer Y. Vandine . The 44-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Sullivan County Courthouse Main & Muncy Streets PO Box 259 Laporte, PA 18626
The phone number for 44-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-946-4413. The fax number for 44-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-946-4436.
What is a Magisterial District Judge?
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.
Small Claims Court in Sullivan County
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. The plaintiff is required to file a filing fee when filing the complaint. There is also an additional cost for serving the defendant with the claim. If the plaintiff wins, these costs can potentially be recovered from the defendant.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Sullivan County
Prior to filing a claim, it is recommended that you send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment. A demand letter can be the easiest and shortest way to resolve your case. 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. 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. For help determining the proper name, you should contact Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau online or by phone at 717-787-1057. Before going to the Magisterial District Court to file your claim, you should know the following information:
- name and address of the plaintiff
- name and address of the defendant
- the dollar amount of damages
- brief statement about why the plaintiff is entitled to the amount of the claim (you should include specifics like locations and dates to assist the court and the defendant from learning what the case is about)
While it is possible to file your claim through the mail, the plaintiff should file it in person at the courthouse with the clerk, so the clerk can let the plaintiff know if there are any problems with the claim. While at the courthouse, the plaintiff can pay the filing fees. The plaintiff will also have to pay for a cost to serve the defendant. 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.