Venango County Small Claims Court, Pennsylvania


After the Judge Makes a Decision

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. If the defendant wishes to appeal, he or she must file a Notice of Appeal with the prothonotary at the county courthouse. A copy of the Notice of Appeal will be served on the judge (who made the decision) and the plaintiff in the case. 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. The plaintiff can also appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s decision if the judge ruled for the defendant at the hearing.

Types of Cases Handled by a Magisterial District Judge in Venango 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).

Where to File a Small Claims Court Case?

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 Defendant lives (or where the business involved is located)
  • the contract for the case was signed or where work was to be performed
  • the damage or accident involved 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 complaint form can be found under “Civil Complaint” here. 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.

Magisterial District Court in Venango County

Venango County has 3 Magisterial Districts which are:

28-3-01

The Magisterial District Judge for 28-3-01 is Andrew F. Fish . The 28-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

1052-B Grandview Road
Oil City, PA 16301

The phone number for 28-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-670-0339. The fax number for 28-3-01 Magisterial District is: 814-670-0922.

28-3-03

The Magisterial District Judge for 28-3-03 is Matthew T. Kirtland . The 28-3-03 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

217 Thirteenth Street
Franklin, PA 16323

The phone number for 28-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-432-3621. The fax number for 28-3-03 Magisterial District is: 814-432-7963.

28-3-04

The Magisterial District Judge for 28-3-04 is Patrick E. Lowrey . The 28-3-04 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:

c/o Mellon Bank Building
PO Box 553
Seneca, PA 16346

The phone number for 28-3-04 Magisterial District is: 814-676-5421.

Types of Cases in Venango County Small Claims Court

Most cases filed in small claims court in Venango County are either considered a breach of contract case or a negligence case. 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:

  • 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. 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).

Steps Before Filing a Case in Venango 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. 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 Magisterial Court cannot accept a post office box. 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 heading down to the courthouse to fill out your claim, you should have the following information:

  • plaintiff’s name and address
  • name and address of the defendant
  • the amount of the claim
  • 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, 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. Service by certified mail is cheaper but might not be as quick as personal service by a sheriff or constable.

Should I File in Venango County Magisterial District Court

A claim of $12,000 or less is also able to be filed in Common Pleas Court. But, the Common Pleas Court is more formal and expensive than Magisterial District Court. Additionally, you need an attorney to file your case in the court of common pleas. Magisterial District Court does not require an attorney.

Venango County Small Claims Court

Venango County Small Claims Court

Venango County Small Claims Court

Magisterial District Courts in Pennsylvania handle a wide variety of cases including what are commonly known as small claims court cases. In Magisterial District Court, a party is not required to have an attorney. 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 may also be an additional cost for serving the Defendant. These costs can potentially be recovered by you if you win the case.

Small Claims Court Hearings in Venango 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. Before the hearing, both parties should gather all documents and papers related to the case. You should also arrange to have any witnesses that may support your position present on the date of the hearing so they can testify. 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). At the beginning of the hearing, the Magisterial District Judge will explain the procedures. 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 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 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 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).