A Small Claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is $5,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees. Because Small Claims court is considered a “people’s court,” it is not necessary to have an attorney to file a claim. Forms to file a small claim case are available at the County Civil Department at the Clay County Courthouse and in the Forms section of this website. Attorneys are not precluded from this court, but are not required. The Statement of Claim form is also available at the Clerk’s Office or on this website. The case should be filed in the county in which the incident took place. If the case is filed in the wrong county, the Defendant may ask the court to change the venue to the proper county.
When filing a Small Claims case, please ensure that the proper party is named in the suit. All businesses named should be verified for accuracy at the Division of Corporations at the Florida Department of State. The Summons should include the name of the Registered Agent of the corporation. Any attachments to the claim should include one copy for the court file and one copy to be served on each defendant.
The summons may be served by the Sheriff, a process server, or by certified mail. Certified mail can only be served within the State of Florida. Pursuant to the Florida Small Claims Rules, if a plaintiff serves by certified mail a return receipt signed by the defendant, or someone authorized to receive mail at the residence or principal place of business of the defendant is required.
Upon the case filing, a pretrial date will be set. All parties will be required to attend the pretrial conference. If the defendant is not served, the Plaintiff is still required to attend the pretrial conference, to request a continuance and reschedule the pretrial conference. The Clerk will assist with the new date and with the preparation of a new summons for service (Plaintiff must pay the summons create & issue fee $17.00). If you do not attend pretrial, your case may be dismissed.
If there is service on the defendant, the case will normally be sent to a pretrial Mediation Conference. If the Plaintiff does not appear, the case is subject to being dismissed by the court. If the Defendant does not appear and the Plaintiff is present, a Default Judgment may be entered. If both parties are present, the mediator will work toward a resolution. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute at mediation a final hearing will be set.
The court does not collect the Judgment on the Plaintiff’s behalf. An information sheet may be obtained from the Clerk’s office which provides guidance on how to collect on the Judgment.
If you and the other party reach a settlement, the Clerk’s office must be notified in writing.