Who Can Use Small Claims?
You must be an individual to use Small Claims. Corporations, Partnerships, Associations or Assignees cannot bring actions in Small Claims (see Commercial Claims if you are a Corporation, Partnership or Association).
Although a Defendant may waive the defense of lack of personal jurisdiction, in general, you must bring the action 1) where the Defendant resides, 2) where the Defendant does business at the time or has regular employment, or 3) where you are/were renting real property (ONLY if the defendant owns the property and your claim is related to your tenancy or lease).
For the Court to serve your petition on the defendant(s), you must be able to provide an address within Tompkins County where the Defendant can be served. If your claim is related to your tenancy or lease, the address may be where you deliver your rent in Tompkins County or an adjoining county (if the Defendant doesn’t live or work/have a place of business within Tompkins County or if you don’t know where they live or work) but ONLY if the defendant owns the property you are/were renting.
Ithaca City Court Small Claims Part has jurisdiction within Tompkins County. You also have the option to sue in the appropriate Town or Village Court if the Defendant resides outside the City of Ithaca.
Up to $5,000.00 (exclusive of interest and costs) - Money damages only.
You must be 18 years or older to bring an action in Small Claims; otherwise, the action must be brought by a parent or guardian.
If a party will be inequitably affected by a judgement rendered by a Court (that is, his/her right to litigate a claim or recover damages against a named defendant could be determined by the case being heard), that person must be named as a claimant/plaintiff in the case. If such a person refuses to join the case as a plaintiff, then he/she may be named as a defendant (CPLR sec. 1101[a]). Two examples of people who should be joined as claimants/plaintiffs include: (1) co-tenants on a lease in a claim against a landlord; (2) when the owner of, operator of and riders in an automobile are different people in a negligence action for property damage and personal injuries.
WHO CAN USE COMMERCIAL CLAIMS/CONSUMER TRANSACTION?
The Claimant must be a corporation, partnership, or association. A Certification of Authority must be filed indicating the office/ authority of the claimant to settle or participate in the trial on behalf of the business as well as other required forms (listed below). NO COLLECTION AGENCIES.
What is a Consumer Transaction?
A Consumer Transaction is a transaction where the money, property or service that is the subject of the transaction is primarily for personal, family or household purposes.
The Claimant must have a principle office in the State of New York.
The Defendant must reside or have an office for the transaction of business or regular employment within the County. You must be able to provide the Court with an address within Tompkins County for the defendant.
Up to $5,000.00 (exclusive of interest and costs) - for money damages only.
If a party will be inequitably affected by a judgement rendered by a Court (that is, his/her right to litigate a claim or recover damages against a named defendant could be determined by the case being heard), that person must be named as a claimant/plaintiff in the case. If such a person refuses to join the case as a plaintiff, then he/she may be named as a defendant (CPLR sec. 1101[a]). Two examples of people who should be joined as claimants/plaintiffs include:
(1) co-tenants on a lease in a claim against a landlord;
(2) when the owner of, operator of and riders in an automobile are different people in a negligence action for property damage and personal injuries.
Application: (download in ADOBE ACROBAT). See below for the required forms in Commercial Claims cases.
CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY:
The claimant must file with the Court a Certification of Authority (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) indicating that the claimant has the authority to settle and/or participate in a trial on behalf of the business. This form may be obtained from the Clerk of the Court or on this web site.
CERTIFICATION ON LIMITATION OF COMMERCIAL CLAIM / CONSUMER TRANSACTION FILINGS:
The Claimant may file up to five (5) claims per calendar month. You will be required to file a verification that no more than five (5) commercial claims have been instituted by you anywhere in New York State during the calendar month. A verification form(download in ADOBE ACROBAT) can be obtained from the Clerk of the City Court or on this web site.
DEMAND LETTER CERTIFICATION (required in Consumer Transaction cases only):
The Claimant MUST file with the Court a certification attesting that a Demand Letter has been sent to the Defendant not less than 10 days nor more than 180 days from the time of the filing of the action in Commercial Claims Court. The Certification Form and a sample of a Demand Letter (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) can be obtained from the City Court Clerk's office or from this web site.
If you have been named as a defendant in a small claim/commercial claim/consumer transaction and have a claim against the claimant, you may bring a "counterclaim" as part of the lawsuit, for money only, up to $5,000. You should file your own Small Claim/Commercial Claim application with the Court with the filing fee (Claims can NOT be submitted via the Internet). Click here for the application (download in ADOBE ACROBAT). You must inform the Court that you are filing a counterclaim and inform the Court of the case name and docket number of the case to which you are filing a counterclaim. You must be prepared to prove the counterclaim on the day you go to Court.
A counterclaim should be filed within 5 days of your receipt of the summons and notice of claim. However, if you file a counterclaim after the 5 days has elapsed, the claimant in the initial proceeding may request an adjournment of the hearing date. The Court must grant the adjournment request.
If you are a corporation, partnership or association filing a counterclaim, you must submit to the Court a Certification of Authority (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) which can be obtained from the City Court or on this web site.
Once you have completed the application (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) for Small Claims/Commercial Claims and the REQUIRED forms (if any), you may submit your application to the Clerk of the Court located at the 118 E. Clinton Street, Ithaca, New York with the appropriate filing fee (Claims can NOT be submitted via the Internet). The Clerk will provide you with a Court date at least 30 days from the date of filing for the hearing in this matter and will send a Summons with the hearing date and a copy of the Application to the opposing party.
If you have filed a Small Claim/Commercial Claim with the City Court and the parties have resolved the matter prior to the Court hearing, you should advise the Court, in writing, immediately. The form for withdrawing a small claim/commercial claim is available on this web site (download in ADOBE ACROBAT) . Only the individual that filed the claim can withdraw the matter and must have his/her signature notarized by a notary public or acknowledged at the Court Clerk's office.
If you and the opposing party wish to attempt to mediate your conflict or disagreement, you may do so before or after you have commenced a small claims action with the Court. If an action has not been commenced and mediation is not successful, you will still have the option of proceeding to a court action upon the filing of the appropriate court paperwork. In most cases, once a small claims action has been commenced with the Court, the Community Dispute Resolution Center will contact you and the opposing party to schedule a mediation session. While you are not obligated to participate in any mediation service, it is often possible to resolve your case on terms agreeable to both parties, without court intervention, through the mediation service.
If you commenced a case in Small Claims Court and the case is settled prior to trial through mediation, the filing fee that you paid to commence the Small Claims action is not automatically included in the Notice of Judgement issued by the Ithaca City Court. If the filing fee is to be reimbursed to the plaintiff by the defendant, this must be indicated in the settlement agreement. Court costs are not awarded to either party unless specifically agreed to and included in the mediation agreement.
You may contact the Community Dispute Resolution Center at 607-273-9347 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.