Small Claims Court in Suffolk County

In Suffolk County, NY small claims cases are typically filed in the Small Claim Court. Each township in Suffolk County District has its own Court that handles small claims cases. Suffolk County District is divided on Western Suffolk with six courthouses and on Eastern Suffolk with five courthouses that handle small claims, serving different jurisdictions.

Squabble is here to assist you in navigating the small claims court system and filing a claim with ease. We recognize that not everyone is a legal expert, and our goal is to simplify the process for you. This guide will answer your questions about filing claims in the Suffolk County Court System.

Small Claims Court

The Suffolk Court is divided into Western Suffolk County and Eastern Suffolk. In Western Suffolk County, there are six courts that handle small claims cases. If the defendant lives, works, has a business, or owns property you are renting (with your claim related to your tenancy or lease) in Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, or Smithtown, you can file your claim in person or by mail at any of these District Courts.

In Eastern Suffolk County, there are five Justice Courts that handle small claims cases: Riverhead, Southold, East Hampton, Southampton, and Shelter Island. The rules in these towns differ from those in New York City, Nassau, and Western Suffolk Counties. Here’s what you need to know for Eastern Suffolk County.

Reasons to File a Small Claims Suit

Small claims court can handle various types of claims, including:

  • Money debts
  • Personal injury
  • Property damage
  • Tenant/Landlord Dispute
  • Stolen Property
  • Auto Repair
  • Poor Construction
  • Product Defect
  • Broken Contracts or Verbal Promises

It's always advisable to try to resolve disputes out of court first. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, filing a small claims complaint might be necessary.

Who Can Sue in Small Claims Court?

If you’re 18 or older, you can sue in Small Claims Court. If you’re under 18, a parent or guardian must sue on your behalf. Only individuals can sue; corporations, partnerships, associations, or assignees cannot sue but can be sued. Businesses can file a Commercial Claim or Consumer Transaction instead.

Who’s Who in a Lawsuit?

The person suing is called the claimant, and the person being sued is the defendant. You can sue more than one person at a time. However, you must be the right person to file the lawsuit. For example, if you’re driving a car that isn’t registered in your name and get into an accident, you can’t sue for damages. Only the registered owner can.

Where to File Your Lawsuit

You need to file your lawsuit in the right county. Generally, you can sue in the county where either party lives. If no one lives in the City, you can sue in the county where either party works or has a business. If the defendant doesn’t live, work, or have a business address in New York City, you can’t sue them in Small Claims Court.

How to Start a Case

To start a lawsuit, go to the Small Claims Court Clerk’s office in the right county and fill out a statement of claim. You need to explain why you’re suing, know the amount you’re claiming, and have the correct name and address of the person or business you’re suing. If unsure about a business’s name, check the County Clerk’s office. You’ll need to pay a court fee:

  • $15 for claims up to $1,000
  • $20 for claims over $1,000 and up to $10,000.

Pay with cash, certified check, money order, or bank check made out to "Clerk of the Civil Court."

If you Want to Sue a Public Agency

If you need to sue a public agency like a town, village, city, or county, you can do so in Small Claims Court. However, there are specific rules you need to follow:

  1. Notification Requirement: You must inform the agency within 90 days from the date of your injury or damage. This notification is crucial; otherwise, you can't proceed with your lawsuit.

  2. Consequences of Missing the Deadline: If you miss this 90-day deadline, the court may dismiss your case, even if you're just a day late.

  3. How to Notify the Agency: Obtain a notification form from the agency you intend to sue. Fill it out, and the agency will assign you a claim number. In New York City, you can get addresses for all city agencies from the Small Claims Clerk. Some agencies allow electronic notifications.

  4. After Notification: Once you've notified the agency:

    • They may offer a settlement.
    • They may deny your claim.
    • They may not respond at all.
    • If your claim isn't resolved within 30 days, you can proceed to file your case in Small Claims Court.
  5. Filing Deadline: You have 1 year plus 90 days to file your claim (or 1 year plus 30 days if suing the MTA). Calculate this from the date of your injury or damage.

Following these steps is crucial to ensure your lawsuit against a public agency proceeds smoothly within the Small Claims Court system.

Filing by Mail

If you live outside New York City and want to sue someone within the City, contact the Small Claims Court Clerk’s office in the defendant’s county to get the necessary forms and instructions for filing by mail.

Notifying the Defendant

After filing your claim, the court clerk will notify the defendant by sending a notice of your claim via certified and regular mail. If the regular mail notice isn’t returned as undeliverable within 21 days, the defendant is considered notified, even if the certified mail isn’t delivered.

If the notice can’t be delivered, the court will give you a new hearing date and instructions for personal delivery. The notice must be personally delivered by someone 18 or older who isn’t part of the lawsuit. If the notice isn’t served within 4 months, your claim will be dismissed, but you can refile if you find the defendant later.


If you're sued and wish to respond, you can file a counterclaim against the person suing you. A counterclaim is a defendant's claim against the claimant for money, limited to $10,000. You have five days after receiving the notice of claim to file a counterclaim and pay the required fee and mailing costs. The court will notify the claimant. If they receive notice before the hearing, they must be prepared to present their claim and defend against the counterclaim. You can also file a counterclaim on the day of the hearing by answering when the case is called and saying "application." If the claimant isn't prepared to defend against the counterclaim, the judge may postpone the hearing.


Parties involved in a conflict can opt for mediation before or after starting a small claims action in court. If mediation doesn't succeed and no court action has begun, the option to proceed with a court case remains open. The Community Dispute Resolution Center typically schedules a mediation session once a small claims action has started. Although mediation isn't mandatory, it often provides a chance to resolve the case mutually without court involvement.

If a small claims case settles through mediation before trial, the filing fee paid to start the action isn't automatically included in the Notice of Judgment from the court. If reimbursement of the filing fee from the defendant to the plaintiff is part of the settlement, it must be specified. Court costs aren't awarded unless agreed upon and included in the mediation agreement.

Preparing for your Trial

Preparing for your trial in Small Claims Court involves gathering evidence and potentially arranging for witnesses. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Organize Evidence: Gather all relevant evidence that supports your claim. This includes photos, written agreements, letters, or any other documents related to your case. Make sure you have itemized bills, canceled checks, receipts, or invoices marked as paid if applicable. If you're seeking money for repairs, you'll need two signed itemized written estimates.

  2. Witnesses: You can have witnesses testify on your behalf. They could be individuals who know about your claim or have expertise related to the reason for your claim (called expert witnesses). Before testifying, all witnesses must swear or affirm to tell the truth.

  3. Expert Witnesses: If your claim involves complex matters that require specialized knowledge, having an expert witness can be beneficial. For instance, if your claim concerns poor workmanship on a roof repair, you'll need a roofer with expertise in your specific issue. In most cases, you'll need to pay an expert witness for their testimony, and you can't compel them to testify with a subpoena.

  4. Subpoenas: If a witness is reluctant to testify or provide records, you can request a subpoena from the Small Claims Court Clerk. A subpoena is a court order that compels the witness to either provide documents to the court or appear at your trial to testify.

  5. Assistance from the Clerk: The Small Claims Court Clerk can assist you in filling out a subpoena if needed.

By organizing your evidence and potentially arranging for witnesses, you'll be better prepared for your trial in Small Claims Court.

Court filing Fees

In Kings County Small Claims Court, the filing fees are as follows:

  • $15 for claims up to $1,000
  • $20 for claims over $1,000

You must pay the fee by cash, certified check, money order or bank check made out to the “Clerk of the Civil Court.” The court does not accept personal checks.

If you Disagree with the Court Decision

If you disagree with the court's decision in Small Claims Court:

  1. Default Judgment: The defendant can request to reopen the case if they missed the trial and have a valid reason.

  2. Arbitrator's Decision: In some areas, like Western Suffolk County, non-default parties can request a new trial before a judge within 35 days of the arbitrator's decision for a fee.

  3. Judge's Decision: You can appeal to a higher court, but winning is tough. The focus is on whether the trial was fair, not on technical mistakes. You don't need a lawyer, but costs might outweigh potential gains.

If you're considering an appeal in Small Claims Court

  1. Deadline: You must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the court's judgment. Contact the Small Claims Court Clerk for details.

  2. Fees: Appeals come with fees. You'll need to pay for the Notice of Appeal and a typed trial transcript for the higher court.

  3. Payment of Judgment: Unless you deposit the judgment amount or file a bond with the Small Claims Court Clerk, you're still responsible for paying the judgment. This ensures payment if you lose the appeal.

  4. Appeal Process: After filing the Notice of Appeal, you'll need to perfect your appeal by obtaining a transcript, preparing a brief with your arguments, and filing papers with the trial court. It's a time-consuming process.

  5. Appeal Decision: Your appeal will be sent to the Appellate Term for a decision once perfected.

How to Collect if You Win

In Western Suffolk County, you'll receive an Arbitration Case Report or a Decision after Trial, along with guidance on obtaining a transcript of judgment and collecting your judgment.

After your Small Claims Court trial, you'll receive a Notice of Judgment detailing:

  1. The amount the other party owes you.
  2. Contact information for the Sheriff's office.
  3. Instructions for collecting your judgment.

The court won't collect the money for you, but your judgment remains valid for 20 years. However, there's no guarantee of payment. If the defendant doesn't pay willingly, you have legal options:

  1. Direct Contact: You can reach out to the defendant by phone or mail to request payment.
  2. Collection Strategies: Explore collection suggestions provided on pages 22-24 of court materials.
  3. Enforcement Officer: You can involve an enforcement officer, like a sheriff or marshal, authorized to seize the debtor's money or property to satisfy your judgment.

Enforcement officers can be marshals, who work independently, or sheriffs, who are county employees.

Uncover Assest of the Debtor

To uncover assets of the judgment debtor:

  • Bank Information: Check canceled checks for the debtor's bank details. Enforcement officers can seize funds from the account.

  • Vehicle Ownership: Contact DMV to see if the debtor owns a vehicle. If so, the enforcement officer can seize and sell it, but outstanding loans must be settled first.

  • Real Estate Ownership: Visit the County Clerk where the debtor may own property. If confirmed, file a transcript of judgment. The enforcement officer can sell the property, deducting expenses and debts before paying your judgment.

Ways to make a Judgment Debtor to Pay

  1. Driver's License Suspension: If the judgment relates to driving or car ownership, and it's above a certain threshold, you can request the suspension of their driver's license and car registration until the debt is paid.

  2. Business License Suspension: If the judgment concerns their licensed business, you can notify the licensing agency to suspend or revoke their license until the debt is settled.

  3. Treble Damages: If the debtor has multiple unpaid judgments and the ability to pay, you may sue for three times the original amount.

  4. Fraudulent or Illegal Business: If their business is found fraudulent or illegal, notify the Attorney General and the licensing agency if applicable.

It's important to consult with relevant authorities to ensure you follow the correct procedures for enforcing a judgment in your specific case and jurisdiction. Each option carries its own set of requirements and potential consequences.

Satisfaction of Judgment

Once the debtor pays off the judgment and a Transcript of Judgment has been filed with the County Clerk, the creditor is legally obligated to prepare and sign a Satisfaction of Judgment. This document is crucial as it allows for the removal of any liens and records of judgment from the County Clerk's office. The creditor must file the Satisfaction of Judgment with the County Clerk or provide it to the debtor for filing. Additionally, the Satisfaction of Judgment must be filed with the City Court. You can typically purchase a Satisfaction of Judgment form from any stationary store.

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at Sufflolk County

Don't allow the intricacies of the legal system to discourage you from pursuing justice and compensation for your claim. With Squabble, you have a dedicated partner to streamline the process and guide you toward resolution. Whether you're contemplating filing a claim at Suffolk County small claims court, Squabble is here to support you at every stage. Reach out to us today to commence your journey toward justice and compensation. Get started today and become one of the 95% of our customers who won or settled their case.

Courthouses Location at Western Suffolk County:

  1. First District Court

    3105 Veterans Memorial Hwy\
    Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
    (631) 854-9676


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:p.m., except for the court holiday.
  2. Second District Court

    30 East Hoffman Avenue\ Lindenhurst, NY 11757
    (631) 854-1121


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:p.m., except for the court holiday.
  3. Third District Court

    1850 New York Avenue
    Huntington Station, NY 11746
    (631) 854-4545


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:p.m., except for the court holiday.
  4. Fourth District Court

    North County Complex, Bldg. C-158
    Veterans Memorial Hwy.
    Hauppauge, NY 11788
    (631) 853-5408


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:p.m., except for the court holiday.
  5. Fifth District Court

    3105 Veterans Memorial Hwy
    Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
    (631) 854-9676


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:p.m., except for the court holiday.
  6. Sixth District Court

    150 West Main Street
    Patchogue, NY 11772
    (631) 854-1440


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 5:p.m., except for the court holiday.

Courthouses Location at Eastern Suffolk County:

  1. Justice Court Town of Riverhead

    210 Howell Avenue
    Riverhead, NY 11901
    (631) 727-3200 x229


    • Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except for the court holiday.
  2. Justice Court Town of East Hampton

    159 Pantigo Road
    East Hampton, NY 11937
    (631) 324-4134


    • Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., except for the court holiday.
  3. Justice Court Town of Shelter Island, Box 1632

    46 N. Ferry Road
    Shelter Island, NY 11964
    (631) 749-8989


    • Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., closed for lunch noon to 1:00 p.m., except for the court holiday.
  4. Justice Court Town of Southold

    53095 Route 25, Box 1179
    Southold, NY 11971
    (631) 765-1852


    • Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except for the court holiday.
  5. Justice Court Town of Southampton

    32 Jackson Avenue
    Hampton Bays, NY 11746
    (631) 702-2997


    • Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., except for the court holiday.
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