Who Can File a Small Claims Court Case in Broward County?
You can file a small claims court case if you are one of the following:
- Someone 18 years of age and older
- A parent or guardian on behalf of anyone under 18
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Broward County
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 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. Small Claims court cases in Broward County can hear cases concerning claims up to $5,000.00 (with costs, attorneys fees and interests added on top of that). Rule 7.010 of the Florida rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes is what authorizes the claim limit for small claims court cases.
Preparing to File a Broward County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Broward County, you should communicate with the other party about what is exactly in dispute. The best way to accomplish this is to write a short succint letter outling your position and deliver it to the other party. 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.
Broward 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 pre-trial conference is not successful in resolving your case, 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. 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. Multiple defendants may have pre-trial conferences set on different dates. If this occurs, the plaintiff is still requires to attend all the different pre-trial conference dates.
How to Effect Service on a Defendant in Broward County Small Claims Court
Once a case is filed, the Plaintiff needs to take steps to serve all the Defendants which were named in the case. 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. 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. 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 Florida Department of Corporations can be used to research this as well.
Can I have a jury in my Broward County Small Claims Court Case?
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. 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.
Types of Cases Not Handled in Broward County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- mortgage payments
- traffic fines
Location for Small Claims Courthouse in Broward County
Small Claims cases can be filed at the Broward County Courthouse which is located at: 201 S.E. 6th Street Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 The phone number for the courthouse is: 954-831-7019.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Broward County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Broward County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form needs to be typed or printed with a pen to ensure the legibility.
Rules Governing Small Claims Court Cases in Broward County
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Broward County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Broward 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 obtains a judgment in its favor, these court costs can be added into the total amount of the judgment. A person interested in filing a small claims court case should contact the Broward County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.