Rockland County Small Claims Court
How do I find the correct name for the Defendant?
For people, you will want the person’s first and last name (their real name, and not a nickname they go by). You should also be able to provide the address of the defendant. For businesses, it can be a little more tricky. If you contact the Rockland County Clerk’s Office, they will be able to provide you with the proper business name.
Small Claims Court Appeals for Rockland County Cases
A party has 30 days from the date of the judgment to file a notice of appeal (or 35 days if you were mailed the court’s judgment). Appeals require additional fees to be filed. You must also determine if a transcript needs to be ordered. If you are interested in filing an appeal, check with the clerk of your specific court for the procedures and filing fees. Remember, an appellate court will only overturn a judgment if the ruling is “clearly erroneous.” Some people find it useful to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to file an appeal.
What happens on day of the hearing?
You should arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the time designated for your hearing. Upon arriving, you should look for the small claims court calendar (or a clerk if there is no calendar). Cases are listed on the calendar by the last name of the plaintiff and the last name of the defendant (or full name of the business or other entity). If you are unable to find your case on the calendar, you should contact the court clerk (or judge if there is no court clerk). In some courtrooms, the clerk may check people in as they arrive. In others, you must wait until your case is called.
When your case is called, you may ask the court for a continuance or adjournment or any other request. If both parties are ready to proceed, the case will go forward.
How a Small Claims Court Case Begins
You must go to the Small Claims Court to file your case. The court will provide the necessary forms. One section of the form will ask for a statement of the case. The statement is a fancy way of asking what your case is about. This should be brief and include all important facts. If your claim arises under property damage or a contract, you may claim interest on top of your damages. A court will generally have a clerk who is available to assist with questions regarding the forms (and answer other questions). If a court does not have a clerk, generally the judge is available to help you with these questions.
The date and time of the hearing will be provided to you by the clerk. The clerk will “give notice” to the defendant of the case which includes the statement of the case as you wrote it and the date and time of the hearing. This is called serving the defendant. The notice is sent by certified mail and first-class mail. If the notice sent by first-class mail is not returned as undeliverable, the defendant is deemed to be “served,” even if the notice sent by certified mail has not been delivered (otherwise a defendant could simply refuse to sign for the certified mail). If the post office cannot deliver notice of the claim and you believe the person still resides in that village or town, the court (clerk) will give you a new hearing date and will instruct you on how to personally serve the defendant. Due Process (a fancy way of saying fairness) requires that the defendant be served prior to a hearing on your case. The claim will be dismissed after four months if the defendant has not been served. The case will be dismissed without prejudice which means you can refile with the same court if you learn the defendant is still residing in that location (otherwise, if the defendant moved, you would file it in the court of the new town or village).
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You do not have to hire an attorney to represent you in small claims court (even if you are a business). The procedures and rules for small claims court are actually designed to be simple and informal so that a party does not have to hire an attorney and should be able to represent themselves. A plaintiff or defendant can choose to hire an attorney if he or she chooses. Sometimes, when a plaintiff and a defendant have both retained attorneys, the court can transfer the case from small claims to the regular civil part.
Small Claims Court Locations in Rockland County
Each village or town has in Rockland County has its own court to handle cases arising at that town or village. Rockland County Small Claims Cases are handled in 21 locations for the following towns and villages: Airmont Village, Chestnut Ridge Village, Clarkstown Town, Grand View-on-Hudson Village, Haverstraw Town, Haverstraw Village, Hillburn Village, Montebello Village, New Square Village, Nyack Village, Orangetown Town, Piermont Village, Ramapo Town, Sloatsburg Village, South Nyack Village, Spring Valley Village, Stony Point Town, Suffern Village, Upper Nyack Village, Wesley Hills Village, and West Haverstraw Village.
The locations for the courts are:
Airmont Village Court251 Cherry Lane P.O. Box 578 Tallman, NY 10982
Chestnut Ridge Village Court277 Old Nyack Turnpike Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977
Clarkstown Town Court20 Maple Avenue New City, NY 10956
Grand View-on-Hudson Village Court118 River Road Grand View Hudson, NY 10960
Haverstraw Town CourtOne Rosman Road Garnerville, NY 10923
Haverstraw Village Court40 New Main Street Haverstraw, NY 10927
Hillburn Village Court31 Mountain Avenue Hillburn, NY 10931
Montebello Village Court1 Montebello Rd Montebello, NY 10901
New Square Village Court766 North Main Street Spring Valley, NY 10977
Nyack Village Court9 North Broadway Nyack, NY 10960
Orangetown Town Court26 Orangeburg Road Town Hall Orangeburg, NY 10962
Piermont Village Court478 Piermont Avenue Piermont, NY 10968
Ramapo Town Court237 Route 59 Suffern, NY 10901
Sloatsburg Village Court96 Orange Turnpike Sloatsburg, NY 10974
South Nyack Village Court282 South Broadway South Nyack, NY 10960
Spring Valley Village Court200 North Main Street Spring Valley, NY 10977
Stony Point Town Court6 Patriot Hills Drive Stony Point, NY 10984
Suffern Village Court61 Washington Avenue Suffern, NY 10901
Upper Nyack Village Court328 North Broadway Upper Nyack, NY 10960
Wesley Hills Village Court432 Route 306 Wesley Hills, NY 10952
West Haverstraw Village Court130 Samsondale Avenue Attention: Justice Court West Haverstraw, NY 10993
Rockland County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court cases are heard in the town or village court for Rockland County. The limit a plaintiff can ask for is $3,000. The purpose of small claims court and the motivation behind the relaxed evidentiary rules and procedures is to allow these cases to be resolved informally and without making a party hire an attorney. If you do have a claim for more than $3,000.00, you cannot file two separate actions to bring it under the limit. The only relief available in small claims court cases is monetary. You cannot ask the court to order a defendant to do something (like fix your property damage or fulfill the terms of a contract). A party can only sue for monetary relief. You are also able to sue a municipality (city, village, town, or county) and other public agencies, but the law requires you to give notice before you sue them. Notice must be given within 90 days of the incident which gives rise to your case. If you do not provide notice within this window, your case will be dismissed.
Are continuances allowed in small claims court?
Can I file my small claims case in Rockland?
The action must be brought in the town or village where the defendant resides (or has an open business office).
What are the filing costs for a case in Rockland County?
In Rockland County, the fee to file a Small Claims Court case is $10 (if your claim amount is $1,000 or less) or $15 (if the claim is for more than $1000.00).
Am I eligible to sue in small claims court?
Am I eligible to sue in small claims court?
In order to file an action, you must be 18 years of age or older. If someone is younger than 18, a parent or legal guardian is able to bring an action on behalf of the minor. Corporate entities, partnerships, and other entities cannot file in small claims court. Their actions must be filed in Commercial Claims Court. These entities can only act as defendants in small claims court. These corporate entities are able to be sued in small claims court. When a business, corporation, or other entity is sued, the entity is able to authorize a person (usually an employee, director, or attorney) to appear on its behalf.
What about a jury trial for a small claims court case in Rockland County?
A defendant (and only a defendant) can request a jury trial for a small claims court case. The demand must be made prior to the actual hearing date. The defendant has to fill out, under oath, a statement identifying which issues the jury will consider. The judge will then determine if the case should remain in small claims court or be transferred to the regular civil part. If the case remains in regular small claims court, six jurors are used to hear the case.
What happens if I don’t show up for the hearing?
If you are the plaintiff and fail to show up to court on the date of your case, the court will dismiss the case. If you are the defendant and fail to show up to court, the court will enter a ruling based only on the evidence presented by the plaintiff. This could result in a “default” judgment taken against the defendant. Court rules require that the judge not enter a default judgment until one hour after the time set for the hearing.
How do I file a counterclaim against the plaintiff?
A defendant can file a counterclaim against a plaintiff. The counterclaim must be filed within five days of receiving the notice of claim. The cost to file a counterclaim is $3. The counterclaim must be for money and cannot be for more than $3,000. A defendant can file a counterclaim after the five day window, however, the plaintiff can ask for a later hearing date (to allow the plaintiff to prepare to respond to the counterclaim) or the court may set a later hearing date on its own.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that is binding. At an arbitration, an arbitrator (who is usually, but not always, an experienced attorney) will allow each side to present their case. He or she will then weigh the evidence and issue a final judgment. If both parties agree to arbitration, an arbitrator will often be able to hear a claim before a judge would (because there are more arbitrators than judges). The arbitrator uses the exact same law the judge would follow. When an arbitrator decides your case, the decision is final. There is no appeal-by either party.
What are the fancy terms used in these cases?
The party is a person, business, or other entity involved in a court case (on either side of the “v.” in the case name). A plaintiff (sometimes called claimant) is the person who initiates or begins the lawsuit. A “defendant” is the party that is being sued. In certain cases, a third party (ie. not the plaintiff or defendant) is brought into a case (usually by a defendant who feels the third party is partly responsible for the damage to plaintiff). If you are the defendant and are interested in bringing in a third party, contact the court involved with your action about beginning a third party action.
Should I use mediation for my small claims case?
Mediation is an attempt to settle your case without a trial. It is a consifential way to resolve the case. Mediation involved a person acting as a mediator who will try and bring opposing parties to an agreement that all the parties can agree to. In Rockland County, mediation services are provided by: