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Spotlight Issue: Civil lawsuits

by | Oct 25, 2017 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

What are your options if someone in Berks County owes you money? If you are owed money because of damages done to you or your property or because of a breach of contract (just to name a few causes of action), you have the option of filing a civil lawsuit. In this lawsuit you will file a complaint which tells the court why you are owed money how much money you are owed. The amount of money owed is particularly important because that determines where you can file your civil lawsuit in Berks County. Civil lawsuits requesting $12,000 or less can be filed in front of a Magisterial District Judge (MDJ). Claims over $12,000 must be filed in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.

Most people know that an attorney is necessary when a lawsuit involves a sum of money above $12,000. But what about lawsuits for smaller amounts filed in front of a MDJ? Is an attorney necessary for those cases? The short answer is “no,” but the smart answer is usually “yes.”

In order to present the most persuasive case and convince the MDJ that he is owed a certain amount of money, a Plaintiff (person who files the lawsuit) is best served by having an attorney argue the case. A Plaintiff must also make sure to follow the rules when filing the complaint because failure to do so can result in dismissal of his complaint. Similarly, a Defendant may need to present evidence to contradict the Plaintiff’s case and argue to the MDJ why he should not have to pay the amount requested by the Plaintiff – these arguments are best made by someone who understands the law. Defendants are also able to counterclaim against the Plaintiff, but there is a time limit in which that complaint must be filed. Even the question of which Berks County MDJ should hear the case (this is called venue) can be a difficult one for a person who doesn’t understand the law. The stakes can be high for both parties and the Defendant can be on the hook for the court costs if the MDJ decides in favor of the Plaintiff. Hiring an attorney may save you money in the end.

Take, for example, a recent client of Attorney McAllister’s who was sued by a bank for credit collection. The bank said that he owed them $1,500 and filed a civil suit in front of a MDJ. This client could have represented himself, but he made the smart decision to hire Attorney McAllister instead. During the hearing, Attorney McAllister pointed out to the MDJ that the attorney for the bank had not presented any evidence linking his client to the debt (i.e., no signatures on documents). The MDJ was persuaded by Attorney McAllister’s argument and dismissed the civil suit. Our client walked away without having to pay anything to the bank or the court.

If you think that you have a case for a civil suit in Berks County, contact our knowledgeable Reading, PA civil attorneys before you file a complaint. If you are the defendant in a civil suit, don’t go to court alone: we can help. Contact our office at 610-372-5128 or email us [email protected]



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