Palm Beach County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
There are costs involved with filing a small claims court case in Palm Beach 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. A person interested in filing a small claims court case should contact the Palm Beach County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.
Before Filing your Palm Beach County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Palm Beach 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 is the simplest and easiest way of resolving your case before the court system becomes involved (and will resolve it far quicker).
Who May File a Palm Beach County Small Claims Court Case?
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
- Parents or Guardians can file on behalf of a minor
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Palm Beach County
In Florida, you can only file a small claims court action in the county where the Defendant lives, where the situation giving rise to the action occurred, or where the property involved is situated. 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). Claims up to $5,000.00 (not including interest, attorney fees, or costs) can be filed in small claims court. 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.
Can I have a jury in my Palm Beach County Small Claims Court Case?
Jury trials are available in small claims court cases in Florida. However, most small claims court cases are heard by a judge. The plaintiff or defendant can both 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.
How do I file a small claims court case in Palm Beach County?
You need to contact the Palm Beach Clerk’s Office and obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form. The form needs to be typed or printed with a pen to ensure the legibility.
Palm Beach County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
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. The plaintiff needs to serve the Defendant before the pre-trial conference or the court will take the pre-trial conference off calendar. Appearances at pre-trial conferences by both plaintiff and defendant 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. A corporation can be represented by any officer of the corporation or an employee that is so designated by an officer of that corporation. The court may set different dates if there are multiple defendants to a single case. If this occurs, the plaintiff is still requires to attend all the different pre-trial conference dates.
Rules for Palm Beach Small Claims Court Cases
All small claims court cases in Florida are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Palm Beach County Small Claims Courthouse
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Palm Beach County Courthouse which is located at: 205 N. Dixie Highway West Palm Beach, FL 33401 The phone number for the Palm Beach County Court is: 561-355-2996.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Palm Beach County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- alimony payments
- traffic court fines
Service of Defendant in a Palm Beach County Small Claims Case
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. 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. 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 fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.