Town of Otsego
New York

Town Court

Small Claims Jurisdiction
and How to File Your Small Claims

Who can use Small Claims Court?
You must be an individual (or an individual d/b/a) to use a Town or Village Small Claim Court. Corporations, Partnerships, Associations or Assignees cannot bring actions in a Town or Village Small Claims. If you are a Corporation, Partnership, Association or Assignee you may bring a Commercial Small Claim in the Oneonta City Court, which has county-wide jurisdiction over commercial claims as well as small claims.

Geographic Jurisdiction:
You must start your lawsuit where the Defendant resides or where he/she is doing business at the time you bring the action. The Town of Otsego Court has jurisdiction within the Town of Otsego, therefore you must provide an address within the Town of Otsego for the defendant. You also have the option to sue in Oneonta City Court if the Defendant resides anywhere in Otsego County.

Monetary Jurisdiction:
Up to $3,000.00 (exclusive of interest and costs) - Money damages only. In other words, if you prove your claim you can only be awarded money - you cannot get objects or things or performance from the losing party.

You must be 18 years or older to start an action in Small Claims; otherwise, the action must be brought by a parent or guardian.

Necessary Parties:
If a party will be inequitably affected by a judgment 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.

Read "A Guide To Small Claims Court"

Download a Small Claims Application by clicking here

If you have been named as a defendant in a small claim and have a claim against the claimant, you may bring a "counterclaim" as part of the lawsuit, for money only, up to $3,000. You should file your own Small Claim Application with the Court with the filing fee (Counter Claims can NOT be submitted via the Internet or by mail). Click here for the application. 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 (click here for a Certificate of Authority).

Click here for Important Information for Defendants about Small Claims Court

How to File in The Town of Otsego Court
1. Once you have completed the Small Claims Application (download here), you should bring your application to the Clerk of the Court located at the 811 County Highway 26, Fly Creek, New York with the appropriate filing fee (Claims can NOT be submitted via the Internet or by mail).

2. The Clerk will prepare and serve a Summons and provide you with a Court date at least 35 (and usually not more than 45) days from the date of filing for the hearing of your claim.

3. Appear in court on the date of your hearing with your witnesses (if any) and all relevant papers and documents which must be submitted at the time of the hearing.

Withdrawing A Small Claim
If you have filed a Small Claim with the Town Court and the parties have resolved the matter prior to coming for the Court hearing, the plaintiff should advise the Court, in writing, immediately. 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 Mediation Services, Inc. office 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 this dispute and conflict management agency.

If you started 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 Judgment issued by the Town 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 Mediation Services, Inc. at 607-433-1672.

Click here for more information about mediation

Last Updated:
June 30, 2004
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