Jury Trial in Small Claims Court in Sumter County
A jury trial is available in a small claims court case 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.
Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Sumter County?
The following people can file a small claims court case:
- Someone 18 years of age and older
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- You are filing or acting on behalf of a corporation as an officer with prior written authorization
What Types of Cases are Not Handled in Sumter County Small Claims Court?
Sumter County Small Claims Court handles all types of cases except:
- traffic court fines
How do I file a small claims court case in Sumter County?
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Sumter 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.
Sumter County Small Claims Courthouse
Small Claims Court cases in Sumter County can be filed at the Sumter County Courthouse which is at: 215 E. McCollum Avenue Bushnell, FL 33513 The courthouse can be reached at: 352-569-6600.
Sumter County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Sumter 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 final judgment is entered in your favor, these costs can be added to the total amount of your judgment. You should contact the Sumter County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
Preparing to File a Sumter County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Sumter 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. This may resolve your issue before you even have to file a case. Sending this initial communicaiton will be the simplest and most efficient way of resolving your case.
Service of Defendant in a Sumter County Small Claims Case
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). The plaintiff needs to know the full names of all the individuals you are suing. 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 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 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 fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.
Sumter County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
A pre-trial conference is an attempt to resolve or settle the case through a Mediation Agreement. 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. Appearance at the pre-trial conference is 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. 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. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
Sumter County Small Claims Court Jurisdiction
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. Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Rules for Sumter Small Claims Court Cases
Small Claims court cases in Sumter County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.