Who is Able to File a Case in Charlotte County Small Claims Court?
The following people can file a small claims court case:
- A person 18 years of age or older
- Parents or Guardians can file on behalf of a minor
- For corporations, an officer may file on behalf of the corporation provided there is written authorization
What Jurisdiction does the Charlotte County Small Claims Court Have?
In Florida, you can only file a small claims court action in the county where the Defendant lives, where the situation giving rise to the action occurred, or where the property involved is situated. If none of the above apply, then jurisdiction is not property in Charlotte County and the court will not be able to hear your case. If the court does not have jurisdiction, this would allow the judgment you obtain to be attacked by the defendant afterwards when you begin to collect it. A claim of up to $5,000.00, not including costs, interest, and attorneys fees, can be filed in small claims court in Charlotte County. Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Charlotte County Small Claims Court
The party filing the case needs to complete a Statement of Claim form (which can be obtained from the Charlotte Court Clerk’s Office). The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
Charlotte County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Charlotte 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 final judgment is entered in your favor, these costs can be added to the total amount of your judgment. Contact the Charlotte County Court Clerk for the specific amount of the filing fee for your specific case.
Rules for Charlotte Small Claims Court Cases
All small claims court cases in Florida are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Charlotte County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
A pre-trial conference is an attempt to resolve or settle the case through a Mediation Agreement. If the pre-trial conference is not successful in resolving your case, the court will set it for trial. You need to make sure the Defendant has been served prior to the pre-trial conference or it will be cancelled by the court. Pre-trial conference appearances are mandatory. Whoever appears must have full authority to settle the case otherwise costs and attorney fees incurred by the opposing party may be imposed. A corporation may be represented at the pre-trial conference by an officer of the corporation or any employee authorized by an officer of the corporation. Depending on how many defendants are involved in a case and when each defendant was served, the court may schedule different dates for pre-trial conferences on the same case. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
Service of Defendant in a Charlotte County Small Claims Case
Once a case is filed, the Plaintiff needs to take steps to serve all the Defendants which were named in the case. You need to knows the full name of the individual that you are suing. You also need an address of where that person can be served. In order to sue a business, you must determine whether the business is incorporated. If the business has incorporated, the plaintiff needs to ascertain the full name of the corporation and the name and address of a corporate officer or registered agent. This information can be obtained through the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations at 850-245-6052 or online at http://www.sunbiz.org. You also need to learn if the business is operating under a ficitious name. The fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.
How to Prepare to File a Small Claims Court Case in Charlotte County
Before filing a case, it is important that you attempt to discuss your case with the opposing party about what the actual issue is. The easiest way for this is to draft and deliver a letter to the other party which succintly details your complaint. You may be able to resolve your case without going to court. Sending this initial communicaiton will be the simplest and most efficient way of resolving your case.
Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Charlotte County
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. Pursuant to Small Claims Court Rule 7.150, the plaintiff can file a written demand for a jury trial when filing the suit, and a defendant can request a jury trial either within five days of being served notice of the action or at the pre-trial conference. If either of these do not occur, then the case will be tried in front of a judge.
Charlotte County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small claims court cases can be filed at the Charlotte County Courthouse which is located at: 350 E. Marion Avenue Punta Gorda, FL 33950 The courthouse can be reached at: 941-505-4716.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Charlotte County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court does not handle cases involving the following:
- traffic court fines