What Jurisdiction does the Suwannee 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 the above apply, then jurisdiction is not property in Suwannee County and the court will not be able to hear your case. This may open a judgment you obtain to attack when you try to collect it. Small Claims court cases in Suwannee County can hear cases concerning claims up to $5,000.00 (with costs, attorneys fees and interests added on top of that). Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes and Rule 7.010 authorize the limit on small claims court cases.
Who is Able to File a Case in Suwannee County Small Claims Court?
The following people can file a small claims court case:
- You are 18 years or older
- Parents or Guardians can file on behalf of a minor
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
How to Prepare to File a Small Claims Court Case in Suwannee County
Prior to filing a Suwannee 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 is the simplest and easiest way of resolving your case before the court system becomes involved (and will resolve it far quicker).
Suwannee County Small Claims Court Rules
Small Claims court cases in Suwannee County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Suwannee County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Suwannee 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 Suwannee County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
Service of Defendant in a Suwannee 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). You need to knows the full name of the individual that you are suing. You also need to a good address of where that person can be served. In order to sue a business, you must determine whether the business is 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. 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 fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.
Suwannee County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
The pre-trial conference is used for the court to attempt to see if your case can be resolved without a trial. This is usually done with an informal settlement conference or mediation. If the case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial on the judge’s trial docket. 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. Persons representing parties must have full settlement authority otherwise the court may impose court costs and attorney fees on the party failing to comply with this rule. A corporation can be represented by any officer of the corporation or an employee that is so designated by an officer of that corporation. Depending on how many defendants are involved in a case and when each defendant was served, the court may schedule different dates for pre-trial conferences on the same case. If this occurs, the plaintiff is still requires to attend all the different pre-trial conference dates.
Suwannee County Small Claims Courthouse
Small Claims Court cases in Suwannee County can be filed at the Suwannee County Courthouse which is at: 200 S. Ohio Avenue/Dr. MLK Live Oak, FL 32064 The phone number for the courthouse is: 386-362-0526.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Suwannee County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court does not handle cases involving the following:
- mortgage payments
- traffic fines
Can I have a jury in my Suwannee County Small Claims Court Case?
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. 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 neither of these occur, the case will be tried to a judge.
Filing a Claim in Suwannee County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Suwannee 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.