How to File a Small Claims Lawsuit in Broward County
Small claims matters in Broward County are brought in the small claims section of the County Court. Small Claims courts are where private people are able to bring and resolve small money claims before a judge, in a fast and less formalized manner. For example, if your neighbor borrowed $500 and failed to repay the loan you can file a lawsuit on your own without a lawyer.
Where Can You File A Small Claims Suit?
There are four convenient locations where you can file a small claims suit in Broward County.
County Central 201 SE 6th St., Fort Lauderdale, Fl. 33301
North Satellite 1600 West Hillsboro Blvd., Deerfield Beach, Fl. 33442
South Satellite 3350 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Fl. 33021
West Satellite 100 North Pine Island Road, Plantation, Fl. 33317
Who Can Sue in Small Claims Court?
You must be 18 years old or older to file a lawsuit in a Broward County Small Claims Court, however if you are under 18, a parent or guardian may file it on your behalf. Businesses may also file small claim suits. An attorney is NOT required to file a lawsuit in small claims court. This is true even if the party suing is a corporation or LLC, but be aware of Florida Small Claims Rule 7.050(2).
What Type of Case Can Be Brought in Small Claims Court?
According to Florida law, you may file a lawsuit in small claims court for any action involving loans, security deposit refunds, goods or services sold, unlawful detainer actions, property damage or minimal personal injury claims.
Are there limits to the damages you may seek?
There is a limit of $8000, exclusive of costs, interest and Attorney’s fee, to file a lawsuit in small claims court.
Why should you file in Broward County?
You may file in Broward County if the defendant resides here, if the cause of action arose here, or if the subject property is located in Broward County. If there is a contract involved and the contract was either signed in Broward or if the breach of contract took place in Broward, you may file your claim in Broward County.
How much does a Small Claims Suit Cost?
Broward County’s Small Claims Court Filing Fees are as follows:
(Acceptable payment methods: cash, cashier’s check, business check, money order, attorney’s check or a Visa or MasterCard Credit Card)
Claims less than $100.00, the fee is $55.00
Claims of $100.00 or more but not more than $500.00, the fee is $80.00
Claims of $500.00 or more but not more than $2,500.00, the fee is $175.00
Claims of more than $2,500.00 (up to a max of $15,000.00), the fee is $300.00
Claims of not more than $1,000.00 filed simultaneously with an action for replevin of property that is the subject of the claim, the fee is $130.00
In addition to the above fees, there is a per defendant service fee to serve the summons.
You may send notice of your claim by certified mail. If service by mail is not successful, you may hire the Sherriff’s office for a fee or a private process server. Improper service or failure to serve the defendant will delay prosecution of your claim
What steps must be taken in filing a Complaint?
You must obtain and complete a Statement of Claims from the Broward County Clerk’s Office. This will include a detailed description of the basis for your claim. You may request a jury trial in your Statement of Claim as well. You will need to attach two copies of any supporting documents to be filed with the clerk. If the defendant is a business, you must specify if it is a corporation or an individual doing business under a fictitious name. For service purposes, you must provide the name of a registered agent or an officer if the business is a corporation.
The Summons and Notice to Appear will be prepared by the clerk to be sent by certified mail to the defendant or served by the private process server or the sheriff’s office.
What Happens After a Complaint Is Filed?
After a complaint is filed a pre-trial conference will be scheduled by the clerk. If the defendant fails to appear, a default judgment will be entered in your favor. You can argue your case before the judge at this appearance, you may also be sent to mediation with the defendant. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, a trial date will be scheduled.
What do you do once a Judgment is entered by the Judge?
Liens against Real Estate and Personal Property
The court will provide you with a copy of the judgment. You must make sure that the Plaintiff’s address is included on the Judgment. By including the Plaintiff’s address and recording a certified copy of the judgment with Broward County Public Records (see below) the judgment then becomes a lien against all real estate owned by the judgment debtor (a.k.a the defendant in the lawsuit) that is located within Broward County.
To obtain a certified copy of Judgment you must appear in person at the Broward County Governmental Center at 115 South Andrews Avenue, Search Department in Room 114, in Fort Lauderdale. The fees are as follows:
$3.00 for certification
$10.00 for the first page
$8.50 for each additional page
You can obtain a judgment lien on the judgment debtor's real property by recording a certified copy of your judgment in the real estate records of Broward County located at:
Broward County Records – Recording Section- Room 114
115 S. Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
M-F 7:30am – 5:00pm
The Fees for recording are as follows:
$10.00 for the first page
$8.50 for each additional page
To learn more about recording documents in Broward County, including the requirements and guidelines, here is a page outlining all of the steps to do so.
Liens Against Personal Property
You can obtain a lien on all of the judgment debtor's personal property located anywhere in the state by filing a Judgment Lien Certificate with the Department of State. You may file the judgment with the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations by clicking this link.
To learn more about small claims in Broward, watch this video presented by Judge Natasha Deprimo a County Court Judge in Broward County:
Source: Broward Clerk of Courts
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