Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Hillsborough 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)
Pre-Trial Conferences for Hillsborough 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, 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. 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. 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. Multiple defendants may have pre-trial conferences set on different dates. But, the plaintiff is still required to attend every pre-trial conference.
Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Hillsborough County
Even though it is small claims court, a jury trial is available. A large majority of cases are handled and tried in front of a judge rather than a jury. 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 neither the plaintiff or defendant request a jury trial, the case will be tried in front of a judge.
Hillsborough County Small Claims Court Rules
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Hillsborough County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
There are costs involved with filing a small claims court case in Hillsborough County which include a filing fee and a service fee. If a final judgment is entered in your favor, these costs can be added to the total amount of your judgment. You should contact the Hillsborough County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
How do I file a small claims court case in Hillsborough County?
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Hillsborough County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
Hillsborough County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small claims court cases can be filed at the Hillsborough County Courthouse which is located at: 800 E. Twiggs St. Tampa, FL 33602 The phone number for the courthouse is: 813-276-8100.
Service of Defendant in a Hillsborough 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). 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. If you are suing a business, you need to ascertain whether the business is incorporated or not. 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 learned from the Department of State, Department of Corporations website for Florida which can be found online at http://www.sunbiz.org or by telephone at 850-245-6052. If a business has a fictitious name, you will need to obtain that as well. The fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Hillsborough County
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 Hillsborough County Small Claims Court will not have proper jurisdiction to hear the case. This may open a judgment you obtain to attack when you try 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 Hillsborough County. Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Hillsborough County Small Claims Court
Hillsborough County Small Claims Court handles all types of cases except:
- mortgage payments
- traffic court fines
Before Filing your Hillsborough County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Hillsborough 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. You may be able to resolve your case without going to court. This will be the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute.