Somerset County Small Claims Court
Ombudsman for Somerset County Small Claims Court
Each County has an Ombudsman assigned to assist small claims litigants (amongst other responsibilities). They can assist you with questions you may have about your small claims case. For Somerset County, that person is Elizabeth Raimondo who can be reached by telephone at 908-203-6131 or fax at 908-231-7632. The email address for the Somerset County Ombudsman is SomOmbudsman.email@example.com.
Should I file my small claims case in Somerset County?
A case may be filed in a County if at least one defendant resides there (or the business is located there). A business is deemed to “live” in any county where it conducts business or where its registered office is. For example if you want to sue your mechanic and their shop is located in Somerset County, you may file your case here. If you have a case with more than one defendant, you may file a case in a County where any of the defendants reside. If no defendants in the case live in a New Jersey County, the claim needs to be filed in the County where the action arose.
Note: If you are under 18, the complaint for a small claims court action must be completed by an adult.
Somerset County Small Claims cases are heard in the Superior Courts Special Civil Part. The Special Civil Part handles small claims court cases, landlord/tenant cases, and cases filed in the regular Special Civil Part (cases exceeding the limit of small claims court but below the limit for a regular civil case). Small Claims Court is a court where one may sue another (the defendant) to collect an amount of money that one believes is owed. Small claims court rules and procedures are far less complex than in regular courts. Because of this, one is able to file and present a case quickly and inexpensively. Normally, most people file their own case and represent themselves in court (this is true even for businesses). In Somerset, one can only file an action seeking up to, and including, $3,000. This is true for all Small Claims Courts in New Jersey (no matter what County they are filed in). If a party has a claim more than $3,000, but less than $15,000.01, than the case should be filed in the regular Special Civil Part. Special Note: You can file in small claims court if your claim exceeds $3,000 but you waive or forego your right to recover money in excess of the $3,000 limit (you also cannot file an additional action to recover the excess).
Types of Claims Filed in Small Claims Court in Somerset County
- Oral Breach of Contract and Written Breach of Contract
- Return of down payment
- Motor Vehicle Property Damage
- Damage or Loss of Personal Property
- Faulty Workmanship, Defective Merchandise (and other consumer complaints)
- Payment for Labor Performed
- Checks Written Without Funds in the Account
- Actionf or Back Rent
- Action Seeking Return of Security Deposit (Special Note: you can seek up to, and including $5,000 for return of security deposit)
Appeals from Somerset Small Claim Court Rulings
If a party doesn’t agree with a decision on a small claims court case, an appeal may be filed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days of the judgment. You need to file a Notice of Appeal, a copy of the Request for Transcript, and a Case Information Statement within the 45 days with the Clerk of the Appellate Division located at the Hughes Justice Complex, Trenton. Copies of these documents need to be provided to all the parties to the case, to the clerk of the Special Civil Part and the judge where the case was heard. The appealing party must pay a $200 filing fee with the Notice of Appeal. They must also pay an additional $300 deposit with the Appellate Division Clerk within 30 days of the Notice of Appeal. This deposit can be used to pay settlement costs or court costs associated with the appeal if you lose on appeal. This deposit is returned to you if you prevail. A transcript also needs to be obtained (hence the Notice of Requested Transcript listed above). The transcript is a copy of the record of what happened in court on the day of the trial (and reads much like a script). Transcripts can be very expensive. You are usually ordered to pay the estimate of the cost of making the transcrip or charged $300 for each day or partial day of trial. Because of the expense of an appeal, it is very important to ensure you are ready and prepared for the original trial – to save you the time and headaches of appealing an incorrect ruling. If you have additional questions or want more information regarding appeals of New Jersey small claims court cases, you should contact the Clerk’s Office of the Appellate Division at (609) 292-4822.
Location of Somerset County Small Claims Court
The Somerset County Small Claims Court is located at:
The Court can be reached at (908) 231-7014.
Claims That Should NOT be filed in Small Claims:
- You cannot file an action alleging malpractice in Small Claims Court
- Support or alimony (from a marriage or domestic dispute)
- You cannot file an action claiming you are owed money under a probate instrument (will or trust).
What areas are served by the Somerset County Court?
Somerset Court serves the following locations in Somerset County: Franklin, Bridgewater Township, Hillsborough Township, Bernards Township, Montgomery Township, North Plainfield, Warren Township, Branchburg Township, Somerville, Bound Brook, Manville, Bedminster, Bernardsville, Green Brook Township, Raritan, Watchung, South Bound Brook, Peapack-Gladstone, Far Hills, Rocky Hill, and Millstone.
Special Civil Part in Somerset Superior Court
The Special Civil Part handles cases where the amount in controversy (amount being sought by plaintiff) is more than $3,000, but less than or equal to $15,000). The rules are more formal than in small claims. Note: If your case exceeds $15,000, it needs to be filed in the Law Division of Somerset Superior Court.