Can I have a jury in my Polk County Small Claims Court Case?
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 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 neither of these occur, the case will be tried to a judge.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Polk County
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, then the Polk County Small Claims Court will not have proper jurisdiction to hear the 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.
Polk County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Polk 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. You should contact the Polk County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
Who May File a Polk 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
- You are the parent or guardian of a minor and are filing on their behalf
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Polk 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. 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. 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. 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.
How do I file a small claims court case in Polk County?
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Polk County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
What Types of Cases are Not Handled in Polk County Small Claims Court?
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- alimony payments
- traffic fines
Rules for Polk Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims court cases in Polk County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Polk County Small Claims Courthouse
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Polk County Courthouse which is located at: 255 N. Broadway Bartow, FL 33830 The courthouse can be reached at: 863-534-4000.
How to Prepare to File a Small Claims Court Case in Polk County
Prior to filing a Polk County Small Claims Court case, you should try and discuss with the opposing party about what is actually being contested. The easiest way for this is to draft and deliver a letter to the other party which succinctly details your complaint. There is a chance your issue can be resolved prior to filing your claim. This will be the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute.
Serving a Defendant in Polk County Small Claims Court Cases
After the filing a case, the Defendant needs to be served (the court cannot move forward with the case until service of all Defendants has been completed). It is very important that you have the full name of the individual you want to sue. You also need an 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 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 fictitious name. The Florida Department of Corporations can be used to research this as well.