Where Should I File a Wyoming County Small Claims Court Case?
The Pennsylvania courts are divided by county and then into districts. Each district has an elected Magisterial District Judge. The plaintiff should file the case in the Magisterial District where:
- the Defendant resides or where the business is located
- the contract involved was signed or performance was made
- the accident occurred
- the property from the case is kept
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. You will pay the filing fee when you file the Complaint with the court. The complaint form can be found under “Civil Complaint” here. Note: if you need to include confidential information in your complaint, it is important to use the Confidential Information Form found on the same page.
Advantages of Filing in Magisterial District Court in Wyoming County
Claims for $12,000 or less can also be filed at the 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. An attorney is not required at the Magisterial District Court.
Small Claims Court in Wyoming County
Small Claims courts are in Pennsylvania are generally called Magisterial District Courts. 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. A filing fee is required and depends on the amount of money in dispute. There is also an additional cost for serving the defendant with the claim. These costs can potentially be recovered by you if you win the case.
Wyoming County Small Claims Court Case Types
Two types of civil cases are generally heard in Magisterial District Court in Wyoming County: negligence and contract actions. A contract is where two parties enter into an agreement (either written or oral). Contracts are used in many situations including:
- homeowners and contractors to make repairs
- insurance companies to provide insurance services
- credit card companies and credit card holders to provide credit services
Breach of contract occurs when one party does not complete what they are required to do 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. Negligence actions usually arise in an automobile accident or other times where someone sustains personal injuries or property damage.
Wyoming 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. The hearing is open to the public and usually includes the following: judge, clerk, plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses for either party. Courtrooms are open to the public so there may be additional persons in the gallery (who may include additional parties if there is more than one case set for a hearing that day). 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. 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. 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. Once the plaintiff is done, the defendant will have a chance to present testimony (and the plaintiff can ask questions of 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).
Magisterial District Court in Wyoming County
Wyoming County has 2 Magisterial Districts which are:
The Magisterial District Judge for 44-3-01 is David K. Plummer . The 44-3-01 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:
The phone number for 44-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-836-1616. The fax number for 44-3-01 Magisterial District is: 570-836-1956.
The Magisterial District Judge for 44-3-02 is Carl W. Smith . The 44-3-02 Magisterial District courthouse is located at:Wyoming County Courthouse 1 Courthouse Square Tunkhannock, PA 18657
The phone number for 44-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-836-3797. The fax number for 44-3-02 Magisterial District is: 570-836-4641.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Claim in Wyoming County
You should send a demand letter to the defendant asking for payment before filing your claim. A demand letter can be the cheapest and quickest way of resolving your situation. In addition to the amount you are requesting, you should also set a reasonable deadline for the defendant to respond 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 is unable to accept a P.O. Box. It needs a physical address. Additionally, if the party you are suing is not an individual, you will need to have the correct name of the corporation, partnership, limited liability entity, or whatever the corporate structure the party is utilizing. 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
- defendant’s name and address
- 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. The plaintiff can also pay the filing fee in person at the courthouse. 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). The plaintiff can have the claim served on the defendant by certified mail or personally 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.
After the Judge Makes a Decision
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 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 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.
What does a Magisterial District Judge Handle?
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.