Alachua County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Alachua County Courthouse which is located at: 201 E. University Avenue Gainesville, FL 32601 The phone number for the Alachua County Court is: 352-374-3636.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Alachua County Small Claims Court Cases
The pre-trial conference is used for the court to attempt to see if your case can be resolved without a trial. This is usually done with an informal settlement conference or mediation. If the case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial on the judge’s trial docket. The plaintiff needs to serve the Defendant before the pre-trial conference or the court will take the pre-trial conference off calendar. Pre-trial conference appearances are mandatory. Persons representing parties must have full settlement authority otherwise the court may impose court costs and attorney fees on the party failing to comply with this rule. At a pre-trial conference, a corporation can be represented by an officer of an employee if the employee has been designated by an officer. The court may set different dates if there are multiple defendants to a single case. But, the plaintiff is still required to attend every pre-trial conference.
What Types of Cases are Not Handled in Alachua County Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court does not handle cases involving the following:
- alimony payments
- mortgage payments
- traffic fines
Who is Able to File a Case in Alachua County Small Claims Court?
You can file a small claims court case if you are one of the following:
- A person 18 years of age or older
- You are the parent or guardian of a minor and are filing on their behalf
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Service of Defendant in a Alachua County Small Claims Case
After the filing a case, the Defendant needs to be served (the court cannot move forward with the case until service of all Defendants has been completed). It is very important that you have the full name of the individual you want to sue. You also need an address of where that person can be served. If the plaintiff is suing a business, you need to determine whether the business has incorporated. If a corporation is being sued, you must have the full name of the corporation and the name and address of a corporate officer or registered agent for the business. The plaintiff can search for this information on the Florida Department of State, Department of Corporation websites at http://www.sunbiz.org or by phone at 850-245-6052. You also need to learn if the business is operating under a ficitious name. The Florida Department of Corporations can be used to research this as well.
How do I file a small claims court case in Alachua County?
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Alachua County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form needs to be typed or printed with a pen to ensure the legibility.
Alachua County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
In Florida, small claims court actions can only be filed in the county where the Defendant lives, where the incident giving rise to the action occurred, or where the property involved is located. If none of these apply, the court would not have jurisdiction and would be unable to hear your case. If this occurs, you risk obtaining a judgment that can then be challenged and attacked by the defendant after the case when you begin to collect it (which would mean you would have to start all over in the proper county). Claims up to $5,000.00 (not including interest, attorney fees, or costs) can be filed in small claims court. Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Alachua County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Alachua County consist of the filing fee (which is based on the amount of money you are seeking in your claim) and a service fee for bringing each defendant to court. If a party prevails in the case, it can add the costs and fees into the judgment and recover for those costs as well. Contact the Alachua County Court Clerk for the specific amount of the filing fee for your specific case.
Can I have a jury in my Alachua County Small Claims Court Case?
Even though it is small claims court, a jury trial is available. However, most small claims court cases are heard by a judge. Either the plaintiff or defendant may request a jury trial. Small Claims Court Rule 7.150 allows for a jury trial upon written demand of the plaintiff (when the suit is filed) or defendant within five days after being served with notice of the suit or at the pre-trial conference. If neither of these occur, the case will be tried to a judge.
Before Filing your Alachua County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Alachua County, you should communicate with the other party about what is exactly in dispute. The best way to accomplish this is to write a short succint letter outling your position and deliver it to the other party. This may resolve your issue before you even have to file a case. This is the simplest and easiest way of resolving your case before the court system becomes involved (and will resolve it far quicker).
Rules for Alachua Small Claims Court Cases
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.