Who is Able to File a Case in Escambia County Small Claims Court?
A person can file a small claims court case in Florida if any of the following apply:
- A person 18 years of age or older
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Escambia County Small Claims Court
You need to contact the Escambia Clerk’s Office and obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form. The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Escambia County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- traffic court fines
How to Prepare to File a Small Claims Court Case in Escambia 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. This may resolve your issue before you even have to file a case. Sending this initial communicaiton will be the simplest and most efficient way of resolving your case.
Escambia County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Escambia County Courthouse which is located at: 190 Governmental Street Pensacola, FL 32502 The courthouse can be reached at: 850-595-4310.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Escambia County
In Florida, a small claims court case can only be filed in the county where the incident giving rise to the claim occurred, the property involved in the case sits, or where the Defendant lives. 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.
Rules for Escambia Small Claims Court Cases
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Escambia County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
The pre-trial conference is a way for the court to try and resolve your case without a trial (often through informal mediation). If the pre-trial conference is not successful in resolving your case, the court will set it for trial. It is important for the plaintiff to ensure that the Defendant (and all of them) have been served prior to the pre-trial conference, or the court will cancel the pre-trial conference date. Appearance at the pre-trial conference is mandatory. A person representing someone else at a pre-trial conference needs to have full settlement authority otherwise the court may award court costs and attorneys fees against a party that does not comply with this. 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. The court may set different dates if there are multiple defendants to a single case. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Escambia County
A jury trial is available in a small claims court case in Florida. However, most small claims court cases are heard by a judge. Either party may make a request for 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.
Serving a Defendant in Escambia County Small Claims Court Cases
Once a case is filed, the case cannot proceed until the Defendant has been served. 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. If you are suing a business, you need to ascertain whether the business is incorporated or not. If the business you are suing is incorporated, you need to learn the full name of the corporation and the name and address of a corporate officer or registered agent. 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 Department of Corporations can assist you with this.
Escambia County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Escambia 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. You should contact the Escambia County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.