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.