How do I file a small claims court case in Manatee County?
You need to contact the Manatee Clerk’s Office and obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form. The form needs to be typed or printed with a pen to ensure the legibility.
Pre-Trial Conferences for Manatee 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. You need to make sure the Defendant has been served prior to the pre-trial conference or it will be cancelled by the court. Appearance at the pre-trial conference is 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. But, the plaintiff is still required to attend every pre-trial conference.
Manatee County Small Claims Court Rules
All small claims court cases in Florida are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Manatee County Small Claims Courthouse
Small claims court cases can be filed at the Manatee County Courthouse which is located at: 1115 Manatee Avenue W. Bradenton, FL 34205 The phone number for the courthouse is: 941-749-1800.
Preparing to File a Manatee County Small Claims Court Case
Before you file a small claims court action in Manatee 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 Manatee 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). It is very important that you have the full name of the individual you want to sue. 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 you are suing is incorporated, you need to learn 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.
Manatee County Small Claims Court Fees and Costs
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Manatee 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 Manatee County Clerk Court to ask about the fee for your specific case.
Are Jury Trials available in Manatee 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 the plaintiff or defendant may request 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.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Manatee County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- traffic fines
Who May File a Manatee County Small Claims Court Case?
A person can file a small claims court case in Florida if any of the following apply:
- You are 18 years or older
- You are the parent or guardian of a minor and are filing on their behalf
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Manatee County
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 the above apply, then jurisdiction is not property in Manatee County and the court will not be able 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. A claim of up to $5,000.00, not including costs, interest, and attorneys fees, can be filed in small claims court in Manatee County. 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.