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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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How do I file a civil lawsuit in Pennsylvania

Resolved Question:

How do I file a civil lawsuit in Pennsylvania
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. Please remember that there might be a delay between your follow up questions and my answers because I may be helping other clients or taking a break.

You need the step by step as in how to file, you mean?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, My neighbor has trees on a hillside on his property that have grown very large. The hillside has limited soil depth for the tree roots. When the trees get older and larger and top heavy they topple over. The tree and its root system tear out of the soil and fall. The problem is that I have a building that houses two apartments that are within striking distance of these trees. The trees are so large that when they topple over they will completely destroy the apartment structure and if my tenants are in the apartments there will be a loss of lives.
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
Okay, thank you. What you would need is to file for a Petition for Temporary Orders and Permanent Order. To draft such a motion, I strongly recommend going to the local library or otherwise having someone help you. You must file this paperwork with the Clerk of Courts of your county of your place of residence. For example, if you lived in Dauphin County, you would need to file with the Dauphin County Clerk of Courts's Office. Look up your county online - nearly all counties have filing information on their websites. You may also call the county's Clerk of Courts office to get further information. It is recommended to call ahead to make sure you are filing at the right address. You may either send the petition by mail, or walk into the office to file. It is strongly recommended to file in person, since you can then make sure the filing is correct.

If filing by hand, bring three copies to the county Clerk of Courts's filing window. Again, check with the county Clerk of Courts's office to find out where the filing window is located. A clerk will take your copies, typically one or two of them, and stamp the third and give it back to you as proof of filing. You will also be asked to pay a filing fee - typically anywhere from $200 to $300, depending on your county. If you are sending it by postal mail, send three identical copies of the petition, a filing fee (call ahead to find out what it is), and a self-addressed and pre-stamped envelope with your address so the Clerk of Courts can send you a stamped copy back. Include a one sheet cover letter on top of the petition copies to explain that you are filing

Once you file, you then serve the other party - you get a citation from the Clerk of Courts that you then attach to a copy of the petition, and you either have a private process server (Google "process server + your state" to get a list of them) or send it to that party CERTIFIED MAIL, with RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED. Once you get the receipt back if you do it that way, you then send A COPY to the Court Clerk with a note that it's served, and save the original for yourself for proof in case it comes up later.

Once the Court sees that you've served, it'll take a few weeks and will then issue a SCHEDULE ORDER which will be sent out via mail to all parties which will explain when your discovery starts, ends, when you pre-trial date is, and when the final hearing on merits is.

During discovery, you send to them (if you wish) Request for Disclosure, Request for Admissions, and Request for Interrogatories (again, Google each for a sample).

You'll be using that info that they send you in response to help you in your suit.

At pre-trial, the parties touch base and the Court hears any motions that the parties might want to have heard before the Court.

At trial, it's go time, and you do the best you can, but I warn you - trial is hard, and navigating a court room without precious experience in litigation and without a thorough knowledge in procedure and evidence is basically suicide, especially if they have an attorney. This is why again, I recommend one.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I signed up for unlimited answers, first month free. I do not see this option.
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
If you signed up for unlimited answers, then you should not be charged by pressing accept. If you are unsure, you can always go to to verify.

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