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Miami-Dade County Clerk of the CourtsHarvey Ruvin

Small Claims

Small Claims actions may be brought only in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action occurred or where the property involved is located. Before you consider filing a Small Claims action, you should first try to communicate to the other party exactly what is in dispute. It is a good idea to send a letter, which clearly states your complaint. You may be able to resolve the problem without going to court. A lawsuit should be your last resort in solving a civil dispute

A claim up to $8,000 not including costs, interest and attorneys’ fees can be filed with the Clerk's Office as a Small Claims action, according to Rule 7.010 of the Florida Rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes. 

A deputy clerk may be able to assist you with the filing of a small claims suit. Forms are available in Room 137 of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse and at district court locations. You may need an attorney to assist you on all other matters. Fee schedules and additional information are available at those locations or by calling 305-275-1155.

Serving the Defendant

Once you decide to file, you or your lawyer cannot proceed until the defendant has been served. Be sure that you have the full name of the individual you want to sue and an address where that person can be served.

Suing a Business 

If you are suing a business, you must find out whether it is incorporated. If you are suing a corporation, you must have the full name under which the business is incorporated and the name and address of either a corporate officer or the registered agent of the business. This information can be obtained from the Florida Department of State,  Division of Corporations at 850-245-6052 or at sunbiz.org

If the business you are suing is not incorporated, the correct company name and the full name and address of the owner can be obtained by calling the Occupational License Bureau of Miami-Dade County at 305-270-4949.

Businesses with a Fictitious Name

The company you are suing may use a name other than the owner's name, referred to as a fictitious name. That information, along with the name and address of the person who owns the company, must be registered with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations and may be obtained by contacting them online or by calling 850-245-6058.

Costs and Fees

The costs for filing a small claims action include the filing fee based on the amount of your claim as well as a service fee for summoning each party to court. If a final judgment is entered in your favor from your lawsuit, these costs may be added to the total amount of your judgment. 

Pre-trial and Trial dates

Once your suit has been processed, a pre-trial date will be assigned and you will be notified of the date at that time or later by mail. If you do not appear at your pre-trial hearing, your case may be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear, the judge may enter a default. Bring any documents to assist you in proving your case, but do not bring witnesses. This is your opportunity to appear with the defendant(s) before the judge and attempt to settle your case without a trial. Your case may be referred to a mediator. 

If no agreement is reached at the pre-trial hearing, you will be given a trial date. It is your responsibility to subpoena any witnesses to help prove your case. A deputy clerk at the filing location will assist you. 

If the judge decides in your favor, you will receive a Final Judgment by mail or be instructed to obtain a Final Judgment form to submit to the judge for signature.

Final Judgment

A Final Judgment is a legal document that states that one party is entitled to recover damages in a specified amount from another party. Interest will be added on the amount awarded until the Final Judgment is satisfied. 

At any time during this process, the defendant may pay you and settle the claim. However, obtaining a judgment against a party is not the same thing as collecting that judgment. Post-judgment legal procedures are often required prior to any collection. You may find it necessary to retain an attorney to assist you in post-judgment procedures.

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