Are Jury Trials available in Leon County Small Claims Court Cases?
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 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 either of these do not occur, then the case will be tried in front of a judge.
How to Prepare to File a Small Claims Court Case in Leon County
Before you file a small claims court action in Leon County, you should communicate with the other party about what is exactly in dispute. The best way to do this is to send a letter which clearly states your complaint. You may be able to resolve your case without going to court. This is the simplest and easiest way of resolving your case before the court system becomes involved (and will resolve it far quicker).
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Leon County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Leon County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
Rules Governing Small Claims Court Cases in Leon County
All small claims court cases in Florida are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Leon County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
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 the above apply, then jurisdiction is not property in Leon County and the court will not be able 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. 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.
How to Effect Service on a Defendant in Leon County Small Claims Court
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. The plaintiff also needs a good address of where those individuals 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. 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. The plaintiff also needs to research whether a business is utilizing a fictitious business name. The Department of Corporations can assist you with this.
What Types of Cases are Not Handled in Leon County Small Claims Court?
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- mortgage payments
- traffic fines
Leon County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
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, the court will set it for trial. The plaintiff needs to serve the Defendant before the pre-trial conference or the court will take the pre-trial conference off calendar. 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. 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. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Leon County?
You can file a small claims court case if you are one of the following:
- Someone 18 years of age and older
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- You are filing or acting on behalf of a corporation as an officer with prior written authorization
Leon County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Leon County Courthouse which is located at: 301 S. Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32301 The courthouse can be reached at: 850-577-4000.
Court Costs and Fees for Leon County Small Claims Court
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Leon County include the filing fee, which is based on the amount of your claim, as well as a service fee for summoning each party 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. A person interested in filing a small claims court case should contact the Leon County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.