Small Claims Court is a simplified procedure for resolving civil disputes involving amounts less than $5,000.00. Small Claim forms are provided by the Clerk of Court.
The Small Claims Division is located on the second floor of the Kim C. Hammond Justice Center, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg 1, Bunnell, FL 32110. Our office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We may be contacted by telephone at 386-313-4483 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Considerations for Filing a Small Claims Lawsuit
- Have all reasonable means been tried to reach a resolution to the problem?
- Is there a valid legal claim against the other party?
- Is the necessary evidence available to prove the claim in court?
- Is the amount involved less than $5,000.00?
- Do you know the correct legal name and address of the other party?
Small Claims Procedures
When a small claims case is filed, a Pre-Trial Summons is issued. At the Pre-Trial, the Plaintiff (person filing the claim) and the Defendant (person the claim is against) meet with a Mediator and try to reach a settlement.
If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case will be set for a Trial. The County Judge will hear the case and render a written Final Judgment.
The party awarded the Final Judgment may have the Judgment recorded into the Official Records (for an additional fee). The Judgment will then act as a lien against any real property (real estate) the losing party may own in the county where the Judgment is recorded.
The prevailing party may also obtain a writ of execution that may be filed with the Sheriff along with instructions for levy. The Sheriff will have a fee associated with this service. The prevailing party will have to provide information to the Sheriff on the personal property that they wish to levy.
Where to File Your Claim
- Where the contract was entered into.
- If the suit is on an unsecured promissory note, where the note is signed or where the maker resides.
- If the suit is to recover property or to foreclose a lien, where the property is located.
- Where the event giving rise to the offense occurred.
- Where any one or more of the defendants sued reside.
- Any location agreed to in a contract.
- In an action for money due, if there is no agreement as to where suit may be filed, where payment is made.
It is the responsibility of the prevailing party to collect on the Final Judgment. The collection process can be time consuming and expensive.
Steps to Collect on Final Judgment
- Record a certified copy of the Final Judgment in the Official Records of the county where the Debtor owns real property. This places a lien on the Debtor's real property in that county. There is a fee for the Clerk to perform this service.
- Take the Writ of Execution to the Sheriff's Office in that same county for the Sheriff to docket the Judgment. A Writ of Execution is a document issued by the Clerk of the Court which directs the Sheriff to levy on personal property. The prevailing party must complete the Instructions for Levy describing the property owned by the debtor which they wish the Sheriff to levy (The Sheriff charges a service fee to docket the levy). The Sheriff can then sieze the personal property and sell it to satisfy the Judgment.
- There is also a Writ of Garnishment that can be issued for garnishing wages or bank accounts. However, this is a more involved legal process that usually requires the services of an attorney.
Statement of Claim Instructions
JURISDICTION: The jurisdiction of this division of the Court is $5000.00 exclusive of costs. If your claim is more than this amount and you wish to bring suit in County Court you should add the following statement to your claim: (EXCEPT FOR COSTS, ALL SUMS DUE IN EXCESS OF $5000.00 ARE HEREBY WAIVED.)
PREPARING CLAIM: In preparing your claim, be sure to state:
1. The full name of the person(s) involved:
2. If the claim is against both husband and wife use the full name of each.
3. Avoid "Mr." and "Mrs."
4. If the Defendant is a business, you can go to Florida State Department of Corporations website at www.sunbiz.org to find out their Registered Agent's name and address. If your Defendant has a Registered Agent, you would style your case as Defendant's name (the business name) in care of the Registered Agent's name.
5. What was done or not done that gives rise to the claim
6. When it occurred (day, month, and year)
7. Where is occurred (City, County, and State)
8. How much money is due you
9. If you are entitled to interest on the money due you, you must state it separately showing the amount of interest due you to the date you filed the claim and also give a per diem interest rate so that the Court may easily compute the amount of interest due from the date the claim is filed to the date the judgment is entered. (Note: The Clerk can not advise you on claiming interest.)
10. The form should be typed or printed in black/blue ink.
The Required Forms can now be completed online and returned to the Courts Division on the Second Floor of the Justice Center:
Statement of Claim Form (CLICK HERE)
Statement of Responsibility Form (CLICK HERE)
COPIES: You will need the original of the Statement of Claim form for the Court, a copy for each Defendant, and a copy for yourself. If you have any attachments (contracts, leases, receipts, etc.) to attach to your claim form, you will need to supply the Court with a copy for the court file and a copy to be served on each of your Defendants. Originals must be brought to the first court appearance. If filing against two or more defendants, additional copies of the claim & attachments are required. Be sure to advise the Clerk how many defendants you have when obtaining forms. If the Clerk is required to make additional copies, a fee will be charged for each copy.
OTHER PAPERS: If your claim is founded on an instrument in writing such as a sales contract, promissory note, written warranty, lease, etc. it will be necessary for you to furnish one copy of such instrument for attachment as an exhibit to EACH CLAIM FORM to be filed. When insufficient copies are furnished by you, the Clerk will make the necessary copies and a fee will be charged. This charge will have to paid at the time of filing.
SERVICE: To have the defendant personally served by the Sheriff of the appropriate county, the fee must be paid in advance and in addition to the filing fee. This fee must be made payable to the appropriate Sheriff's office & must be in the form of a money order or cashier's check. In addition, service on the defendant(s) who are Florida residents may be completed by certified mail, return receipt signed by the defendant or someone authorized to receive mail at the defendant's residence or principal place of business. A defendant must be served with process before a Judgment can be entered.
ADDRESS: The address of each Defendant must be given in sufficient detail for delivery of the Notice by mail or to find the Defendant for personal service.
NOTICE: The law requires that the defendant be served with a Notice of the claim not less than fifteen (15) days; unless the defendant resides outside Flagler County, in which case the minimum notice is twenty (20) days.
COSTS: Where costs are to be awarded, they are added by the Court at the time judgment is entered. DO NOT INCLUDE SUCH COSTS IN THE AMOUNT STATED BY YOU AS THE AMOUNT BEING CLAIMED IN THE STATEMENT OF CLAIM.
UNLESS THE SUIT IS FILED & SIGNED BY AN ATTORNEY, YOUR STATEMENT OF CLAIM MUST BE SIGNED AND SWORN TO BEFORE A DEPUTY CLERK OR NOTARY PUBLIC WHO MUST AFFIX HIS/HER SEAL.
FILING & OTHER FEES:
|Claims less than $100.00
|Claims of $101.00 to $500.00
|Claims of $501.00 to $2,500.00
|Claims of $2,501. to $5,000.00
|Service by Flagler Cty Sherrif's Office for a F
||$40.00 per defendant
|Summons preparation and issuance by the Clerk's Office
||$17.00 per defendant
(money order or
Notice To Plaintiff and Defendant
ATTENDANCE: After the claim is filed, the Court will schedule a pre-trial conference. You may come with or without an attorney but you are expected to be present even if represented by counsel. Witnesses need not be brought to this court session. One purpose of this hearing is to enable the court to determine the nature of this case and to set the trial date, if necessary. Special Note: Please call the Flagler County Clerk's Office at (386) 313-4483 to ensure the defendant has been served before coming to your scheduled pre-trial. A defendant must be served with process before a Judgment can be entered.
SETTLEMENT: The Plaintiff and Defendant are expected to make a sincere effort, with the assistance of the Court, to resolve this matter at the pretrial hearing. In addition, both parties are encouraged to contact the opposing party to determine if an out-of-court settlement can be reached before the hearing or at anytime before a judgment is entered. If settlement is reached, the Plaintiff must advise the Clerk in writing of the settlement, so the case can be removed from the Court's docket. The Plaintiff must file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with the Clerk and furnish the Defendant with a copy.
PLEADINGS: Unless required of the Court, written defensive pleadings shall be served on all other parties to the action before or at the hearing. Any counterclaim or setoff must be filed not less than five days prior to the appearance date or within such time as the court designates or it is deemed to be abandoned.
DOCUMENTS: If you have books, receipts, or other writings bearing on this claim, you should bring them with you at the time of the hearing.
CONTINUANCES OR POSTPONEMENTS: If one party wants a continuance, he should contact the other party. If the parties agree, notify the Clerk of Flagler County at 1769 E. Moody Blvd. Bldg 1, Bunnell, FL 32110 or call 386-313-4483. THE COURT WILL NOT CONTINUE CASES EXCEPT FOR EXTRAORDINARY CAUSE.
FAILURE TO PROSECUTE: Any case in which no action is taken for a period of six months is subject to dismissal.
ENTRY OF A JUDGMENT AT PRE-TRIAL OR TRIAL: If the court enters a Judgment at Pre-trial or Trial, a copy of the Judgment will be mailed to each party within 7 to 10 business days. A final judgment in the case does not mean the Defendant will automatically pay off the amount due under the judgment. While there may have been a settlement of the debt, enforcement of the judgment is the responsibility of the person who filed the suit. Florida law prohibits the Clerk's Office from offering legal advice about how to enforce the judgment. However, the following procedures may help you collect:
1. Obtain a Certified Copy of the Judgment from the Clerk's Office where the claim was filed. (note, there is a fee for this)
2. The certified copy may be recorded with the Clerk's Office in the Florida county where the Defendant resides or any Florida county where the Defendant owns real property.
3. The recorded judgment becomes a lien against the Defendant's real property for a set number of years & may need to be re-recorded after a set number of years. (See Florida Statute 55)
Turbo Court now offers assistance with Small Claims Forms. The Turbo Court site will help you to determine the forms you need to file your Small Cliams lawsuit or coutner-suit and help you fill them out.
Click here to begin: Turbo Court: Small Claims