Types of Cases Not Handled in St. Lucie County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- alimony payments
- traffic court fines
Before Filing your St. Lucie County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in St. Lucie County, you should communicate with the other party about what is exactly in dispute. The best way to do this is to send a letter which clearly states your complaint. You may be able to resolve your case without going to court. Sending this initial communicaiton will be the simplest and most efficient way of resolving your case.
Filing a Claim in St. Lucie County Small Claims Court
You need to contact the St. Lucie Clerk’s Office and obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form. The form should be typed or printed with a pen to ensure it is legible.
St. Lucie County Small Claims Courthouse
Small Claims Court cases in St. Lucie County can be filed at the St. Lucie County Courthouse which is at: 201 S. Indian River Drive Ft. Pierce, FL 34950 The phone number for the St. Lucie County Court is: 772-462-6900.
Are Jury Trials available in St. Lucie County Small Claims Court Cases?
A jury trial is available in a small claims court case in Florida. 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 St. Lucie 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 pre-trial conference is not successful in resolving your case, 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. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
Rules Governing Small Claims Court Cases in St. Lucie County
Small Claims court cases in St. Lucie County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
How to Effect Service on a Defendant in St. Lucie County Small Claims Court
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). 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 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 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 fictitious name. The fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.
Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in St. Lucie County?
You can file a small claims court case if you are one of the following:
- Someone 18 years of age and older
- Parents or Guardians can file on behalf of a minor
- You are filing or acting on behalf of a corporation as an officer with prior written authorization
What Jurisdiction does the St. Lucie County Small Claims Court Have?
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 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. This is authorized under Rule 7.010 of the Florida Rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes.
St. Lucie County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
Costs for filing a small claims court case in St. Lucie 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 St. Lucie County Court Clerk for the specific amount of the filing fee for your specific case.