What Jurisdiction does the Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Have?
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 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. 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.
Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
Costs for filing a small claims court case in Okeechobee 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. You should contact the Okeechobee County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
Who May File a Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Case?
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)
Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Courthouse
Small Claims Court cases in Okeechobee County can be filed at the Okeechobee County Courthouse which is at: 312 N.W. 3rd Street Okeechobee, FL 34972 The phone number for the courthouse is: 863-763-2131.
Before Filing your Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Case
Prior to filing a Okeechobee County Small Claims Court case, you should try and discuss with the opposing party about what is actually being contested. The best way to accomplish this is to write a short succint letter outling your position and deliver it to the other party. You may be able to resolve your case without going to court. This will be the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute.
Are Jury Trials available in Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Cases?
Jury trials are available in small claims court cases 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. The plaintiff can request a jury trial at the time the case is initially filed, and the defendant can make a request for the same within five days of being served or at the pre-trial conference. (Small Claims Court Rule 7.150). If either of these do not occur, then the case will be tried in front of a judge.
Okeechobee 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 case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial on the judge’s trial docket. You need to make sure the Defendant has been served prior to the pre-trial conference or it will be cancelled by the court. Pre-trial conference appearances 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. Multiple defendants may have pre-trial conferences set on different dates. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
How to Effect Service on a Defendant in Okeechobee 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). It is very important that you have the full name of the individual you want to sue. 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 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. The plaintiff also needs to research whether a business is utilizing a fictitious business name. The Department of Corporations can assist you with this.
Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Rules
Small Claims court cases in Okeechobee County are governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Okeechobee County Small Claims Court
The plaintiff needs to obtain and complete a Statement of Claim form which is found at the Okeechobee County Small Claims Court Clerk’s office. The form needs to be typed or printed with a pen to ensure the legibility.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Okeechobee County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- traffic fines