How to Effect Service on a Defendant in Okaloosa County Small Claims Court
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. The plaintiff also needs a good address of where those individuals can be served. If the plaintiff is suing a business, you need to determine whether the business has incorporated. 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. 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.
Rules for Okaloosa Small Claims Court Cases
All small claims court cases in Florida are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Who is Able to File a Case in Okaloosa County Small Claims Court?
You can file a small claims court case if you are one of the following:
- Someone 18 years of age and 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
Okaloosa County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Okaloosa 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. Contact the Okaloosa County Court Clerk for the specific amount of the filing fee for your specific case.
What Types of Cases are Not Handled in Okaloosa County Small Claims Court?
Okaloosa County Small Claims Court handles all types of cases except:
- mortgage payments
- traffic court fines
Before Filing your Okaloosa County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Okaloosa County, you should communicate with the other party about what is exactly in dispute. 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. This will be the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Okaloosa County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Okaloosa County Small Claims 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.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Okaloosa 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. 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. 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. But, the plaintiff is still required to attend every pre-trial conference.
Okaloosa County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small Claims Court cases in Okaloosa County can be filed at the Okaloosa County Courthouse which is at: 101 E. James Lee Boulevard Crestview, FL 32536 The phone number for the courthouse is: 850-689-5000.
Okaloosa County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
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. Small Claims court cases in Okaloosa County can hear cases concerning claims up to $5,000.00 (with costs, attorneys fees and interests added on top of that). Rule 7.010 of the Florida rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes is what authorizes the claim limit for small claims court cases.
Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Okaloosa County
Jury trials are available in small claims court cases in Florida. A large majority of cases are handled and tried in front of a judge rather than a jury. 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.