Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Monroe County?
A person can file a small claims court case in Florida if any of the following apply:
- A person 18 years of age or older
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- For corporations, an officer may file on behalf of the corporation provided there is written authorization
Monroe County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Monroe 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 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 Monroe County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Monroe County Small Claims Court
Monroe County Small Claims Court handles all types of cases except:
- alimony payments
- mortgage payments
- traffic fines
Monroe 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 these apply, the court would not have jurisdiction and would be unable to hear your 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 Monroe County. This is authorized under Rule 7.010 of the Florida Rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes.
Before Filing your Monroe County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Monroe 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. This may resolve your issue before you even have to file a case. This is the simplest and easiest way of resolving your case before the court system becomes involved (and will resolve it far quicker).
How do I file a small claims court case in Monroe County?
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Monroe County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form needs to be typed or printed with a pen to ensure the legibility.
Are Jury Trials available in Monroe County Small Claims Court Cases?
Even though it is small claims court, a jury trial is available. Even though a jury trial is available, the large majority of small claims court cases are heard in front of a judge. Either party may make a request for 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.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Monroe County Small Claims Court Cases
A pre-trial conference is an attempt to resolve or settle the case through a Mediation Agreement. If the pre-trial conference is not successful in resolving your case, 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. Depending on how many defendants are involved in a case and when each defendant was served, the court may schedule different dates for pre-trial conferences on the same case. If this occurs, the plaintiff is still requires to attend all the different pre-trial conference dates.
Location for Small Claims Courthouse in Monroe County
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Monroe County Courthouse which is located at: 500 Whitehead Street KeyWest, FL 33040 The phone number for the courthouse is: 305-295-3130.
Service of Defendant in a Monroe County Small Claims Case
Once a case is filed, the case cannot proceed until the Defendant has been served. It is very important that you have the full name of the individual you want to sue. You also need to a good address of where that person can be served. If the plaintiff is suing a business, you need to determine whether the business has 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 Florida Department of Corporations can be used to research this as well.
Monroe County Small Claims Court Rules
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.