Before Filing your Sarasota County Small Claims Court Case
Prior to filing a Sarasota County Small Claims Court case, you should try and discuss with the opposing party about what is actually being contested. The best way to do this is to send a letter which clearly states 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.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Sarasota County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- traffic court fines
Location for Small Claims Courthouse in Sarasota County
Small Claims Court cases in Sarasota County can be filed at the Sarasota County Courthouse which is at: 2000 Main Street Sarasota, FL 34237 The phone number for the Sarasota County Court is: 941-861-7400.
Are Jury Trials available in Sarasota County Small Claims Court Cases?
A jury trial is available in a small claims court case in Florida. However, most small claims court cases are heard by a judge. 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 neither of these occur, the case will be tried to a judge.
Service of Defendant in a Sarasota County Small Claims Case
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. You also need an 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. The plaintiff can search for this information on the Florida Department of State, Department of Corporation websites at http://www.sunbiz.org or by phone at 850-245-6052. The plaintiff also needs to research whether a business is utilizing a fictitious business name. The Florida Department of Corporations can be used to research this as well.
Sarasota 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, then the Sarasota 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.
Who May File a Sarasota 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
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
How do I file a small claims court case in Sarasota County?
The party filing the case needs to complete a Statement of Claim form (which can be obtained from the Sarasota Court Clerk’s Office). The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
Sarasota County Small Claims Court Rules
Small Claims court cases in Sarasota County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Sarasota County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Sarasota 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 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 Sarasota County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Sarasota 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, 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. Pre-trial conference appearances 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 may be represented at the pre-trial conference by an officer of the corporation or any employee authorized by an officer of the 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.