What Jurisdiction does the Franklin County Small Claims Court Have?
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 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. Small Claims court cases in Franklin County can hear cases concerning claims up to $5,000.00 (with costs, attorneys fees and interests added on top of that). Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Franklin County?
A person can file a small claims court case in Florida if any of the following apply:
- You are 18 years or older
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
How to Effect Service on a Defendant in Franklin County Small Claims Court
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. The plaintiff also needs a good address of where those individuals 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. 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 Florida Department of Corporations can be used to research this as well.
Rules Governing Small Claims Court Cases in Franklin County
All small claims court cases in Florida are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Before Filing your Franklin County Small Claims Court Case
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. There is a chance your issue can be resolved prior to filing your claim. This will be the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Franklin County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court does not handle cases involving the following:
- alimony payments
- traffic fines
Franklin County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Franklin 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 obtains a judgment in its favor, these court costs can be added into the total amount of the judgment. Contact the Franklin County Court Clerk for the specific amount of the filing fee for your specific case.
How do I file a small claims court case in Franklin County?
You need to contact the Franklin 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.
Franklin County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small Claims Court cases in Franklin County can be filed at the Franklin County Courthouse which is at: 33 Market Street Apalachicola, FL 32320 The phone number for the Franklin County Court is: 850-653-8861.
Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Franklin County
A jury trial is available in a small claims court case in Florida. A large majority of cases are handled and tried in front of a judge rather than a jury. Either party may make a request for a jury trial. The plaintiff can request a jury trial at the time the case is initially filed, and the defendant can make a request for the same within five days of being served or at the pre-trial conference. (Small Claims Court Rule 7.150). If either of these do not occur, then the case will be tried in front of a judge.
Franklin 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 case cannot be settled, 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. Appearances at pre-trial conferences by both plaintiff and defendant are 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 can be represented by any officer of the corporation or an employee that is so designated by an officer of that 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.