Rules for Lafayette Small Claims Court Cases
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Lafayette County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court does not handle cases involving the following:
- mortgage payments
- traffic court fines
Lafayette County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
There are costs involved with filing a small claims court case in Lafayette County which include a filing fee and a service fee. If a party obtains a judgment in its favor, these court costs can be added into the total amount of the judgment. A person interested in filing a small claims court case should contact the Lafayette County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Lafayette County Small Claims Court Cases
The pre-trial conference is used for the court to attempt to see if your case can be resolved without a trial. This is usually done with an informal settlement conference or mediation. If the case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial on the judge’s trial docket. 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. Pre-trial conference appearances 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. At a pre-trial conference, a corporation can be represented by an officer of an employee if the employee has been designated by an officer. 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.
Are Jury Trials available in Lafayette County Small Claims Court Cases?
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. 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.
What Jurisdiction does the Lafayette 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. A claim of up to $5,000.00, not including costs, interest, and attorneys fees, can be filed in small claims court in Lafayette County. This is authorized under Rule 7.010 of the Florida Rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes.
Before Filing your Lafayette 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 best way to accomplish this is to write a short succint letter outling your position and deliver it to the other party. 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.
Location for Small Claims Courthouse in Lafayette County
Small Claims Court cases in Lafayette County can be filed at the Lafayette County Courthouse which is at: 120 W. Main Street Mayo, FL 32066 The courthouse can be reached at: 386-294-1600.
Who May File a Lafayette County Small Claims Court Case?
The following people can file a small claims court case:
- You are 18 years 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
Filing a Claim in Lafayette County Small Claims Court
The party filing the case needs to complete a Statement of Claim form (which can be obtained from the Lafayette 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.
How to Effect Service on a Defendant in Lafayette County Small Claims Court
Once a case is filed, the case cannot proceed until the Defendant has been served. The plaintiff needs to know the full names of all the individuals you are suing. You also need to a good 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 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. 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. The plaintiff also needs to research whether a business is utilizing a fictitious business name. The fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.