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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer & Real Estate Broker, 30+ years, foreclosure, land contracts, inheritance, probate.
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Is it a state law that after 15 mins time and date scheduled

Customer Question

is it a state law that after 15 mins time and date scheduled if hearing is not in motion in the state of pa in magistrate courts it must be dropped against the defendent
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 1 year ago.

Many Magistrates follow that or a similar time requirement in dismissing cases when Plaintiff fails to show, but is not state law. The judge has discretion as to how long to wait before dismissing or continuing the case. Rule 319 PA Rules Of Civil Procedure reads:

Rule 319. Failure of a Party to Appear at the Hearing.

A. If a plaintiff who has been given notice of the defendant’s intention to defend does not appear at the hearing, but the defendant does appear, the magisterial district judge shall enter judgment for the defendant or continue the case for cause. If the plaintiff does not appear at the hearing and the defendant does, but the plaintiff has not been given notice of the defendant’s intention to defend, the case shall be continued.

B. If the defendant does not appear at the hearing, the magisterial district judge shall, whether or not the plaintiff appears, enter judgment for the plaintiff or continue the case for cause. If judgment is entered for the plaintiff, the magisterial district judge shall assess damages for the amount to which the plaintiff is entitled if it is for a sum certain or which can be made certain by computation, but if it is not, the damages shall be assessed by the magisterial district judge at a hearing at which the issues shall be limited to the amount of the damages. If such a hearing is to be held, the magisterial district judge shall give the defendant written notice of the time and date of the hearing, which shall be not less than ten (10) days from the date of the notice.

Official Note

The first sentence of subdivision A of this rule provides for a judgment for the defendant rather than merely a dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint. This provision is intended to prevent the plaintiff from bringing the action again before a magisterial district judge, although he can appeal. The continuance called for in the second sentence of subdivision A will constitute a form of notice to defend and if the plaintiff does not appear at the second hearing judgment will be entered against him.

As to the provisions concerning assessment of damages in subdivision B, compare Pa. R.C.P. Nos. 1037(b) and 1047(b).

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