Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Tioga 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).
Prior to Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Tioga County Magisterial District Court
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 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 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. The Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau (717-787-1057) can assist with learning this information. The plaintiff should have the following information available before heading to the courthouse to complete the claim:
- your name and address
- name and address of the defendant
- the amount of money you are filing your claim for (including all expenses)
- short statement of facts surrounding the circumstances of the case (including dates and locations)
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. 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, the plaintiff will have to pay a fee to have the Defendant served. Your complaint can be served on the defendant either by certified mail or by a sheriff or constable. Personal service can be more expensive than certified mail but can be quicker than certified mail.
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 Defendant lives (or where the business involved is located)
- the contract was signed or where the contract was supposed to be performed
- the accident occurred
- 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 plaintiff needs to complete the form “Civil Complaint.” 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 Tioga County Magisterial District Court
A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in 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 Tioga County Magisterial District Court
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. 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. At the hearing, there will usually be the judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for both sides. The courtroom is open to the public so anybody may be sitting in the gallery of the courtroom as well. 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). Plaintiff and Defendant will both be sworn in at the beginning to present testimony to the court. At the hearing, the judge will give the plaintiff an opportunity to testify about the circumstances surrounding the case. During this time, the plaintiff should present any evidence supporting the case including paperwork, receipts, records, photographs, or videos of the case. The defendant will have the opportunity to ask questions of 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 be given the chance to ask questions of these witnesses as well. After the plaintiff is done presenting his or her case, the judge will give the defendant an opportunity to testify (and the plaintiff will be given the chance to ask questions as well). The defendant can also bring witnesses to provide testimony to the judge as well. After all the evidence has been presented, the judge will make a decision (either at the hearing or within five days).
Tioga County Small Claims Court
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. There is also an additional cost for serving the defendant with the claim. If the plaintiff prevails in the case, these costs can be recovered from the defendant.
Types of Cases in Tioga County Small Claims Court
Most cases filed in small claims court in Tioga County are either considered a breach of contract case or a negligence case. 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 in many situations including:
- home improvements between a contractor and a homeowner
- insurance services between an insurance company and a consumer
- credit card companies when providing credit to consumers
Breach of contract occurs when one party does not complete what they are required to do 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 usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.
After the Tioga County Magisterial District Court Hearing
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 file an appeal at the Common Pleas Court. A Notice of Appeal needs to be filed 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.
Tioga County Magisterial Districts
Tioga County has 3 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 04-3-01 is James R. Edgcomb . The 04-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:201 West Main Street Elkland, PA 16920
The phone number for 04-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-258-7138. The fax number for 04-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-258-7139.
The Magisterial District Judge for 04-3-02 is Robert L. Repard . The 04-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Tioga County Courthouse 118 Main Street Wellsboro, PA 16901
The phone number for 04-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-724-9220. The fax number for 04-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-723-8224.
The Magisterial District Judge for 04-3-03 is James E. Carlson . The 04-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:267 South Main Street Mansfield, PA 16933
The phone number for 04-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-662-2904. The fax number for 04-3-03 Magisterial District is: 570-662-2090.