Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Hamilton 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 party may make a request for 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 either of these do not occur, then the case will be tried in front of a judge.
Service of Defendant in a Hamilton 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. The plaintiff needs to know the full names of all the individuals 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 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. 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.
Before Filing your Hamilton County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Hamilton County, you should communicate with the other party about what is exactly in dispute. 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.
Rules for Hamilton Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims court cases in Hamilton County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Hamilton County Small Claims Court Cases
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 case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial on the judge’s trial docket. You need to make sure the Defendant has been served prior to the pre-trial conference or it will be cancelled by the court. Appearance at the pre-trial conference is 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 can be represented by any officer of the corporation or an employee that is so designated by an officer of that corporation. Multiple defendants may have pre-trial conferences set on different dates. If this occurs, the plaintiff is still requires to attend all the different pre-trial conference dates.
Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Hamilton County?
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
- For corporations, an officer may file on behalf of the corporation provided there is written authorization
Hamilton County Small Claims Courthouse
Small claims court cases can be filed at the Hamilton County Courthouse which is located at: 207 N.E. 1st Street Jasper, FL 32052 The phone number for the courthouse is: 386-792-1288.
How do I file a small claims court case in Hamilton County?
The party filing the case needs to complete a Statement of Claim form (which can be obtained from the Hamilton Court Clerk’s Office). You should type or print your claim on the form using a pen to make sure it’s legible to the defendant as well as the court.
What Jurisdiction does the Hamilton 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, then the Hamilton County Small Claims Court will not have proper jurisdiction to hear the 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). A claim of up to $5,000.00, not including costs, interest, and attorneys fees, can be filed in small claims court in Hamilton County. Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Court Costs and Fees for Hamilton County Small Claims Court
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Hamilton 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 Hamilton County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Hamilton County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court does not handle cases involving the following:
- traffic fines