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Not every encounter with a lawyer is the result of litigation. Oftentimes, clients come to an attorney in an attempt to AVOID expensive litigation from the very beginning. This starts with retaining knowledgeable counsel that can help you to avoid pitfalls in the future.
Civil litigation in Florida can take place in several different Courts, whether it is County Court (including Small Claims) or Circuit Court, each has jurisdiction over different types of claims.
Small Claims can feel like somewhat of a misnomer. Whether someone owes you money or you are being accused of owing money, it can seem overwhelming, regardless of the amount being claimed. Small Claims ($8,000 or less) are handled by the County Court with a summary (expedited) process. It has special rules in place to minimize costs and, as such, retaining an attorney for these types of cases may be more financially manageable than you’d think.
Although “small claims” are capped at $8,000 and handled by the County Court, these courts actually handle cases up to $30,000. The cases ranging from $8,000 to $30,000 are handled by a County Court judge and, although not governed by the summary (expedited) process that small claims are, these cases are often (not always) less complex than Circuit Court cases.
County Court also handles Landlord Tenant claims. Florida has a complex set of rules that must be followed to either withhold rent as a tenant or to proceed through a writ of possession as a landlord. For landlords, missteps and not abiding by requirements can be costly and may result in your case being dismissed, additional filing fees, and non-paying tenants remaining in rentable units for a much longer period. For tenants, not following the letter of the law may result in an eviction on your record, even though you may have had meritorious reasons for withholding rent.
As opposed to “Small Claims” Florida does not actually have a category referred to as “Large Claims” however, claims in excess of $30,000 are heard by Circuit Court Judges. The Circuit may encompass several counties. These cases may be incredibly complex with each side orchestrating legal maneuvers and motions that can leave the unwary in an untenable situation.
Often times, Construction Disputes are heard in Circuit Court. Construction disputes arise in many projects due to non-payment, whether by the owner, contractor, or any number of other parties that should be making payment. Attorney Paul Brytus worked in the construction field (in a former life) for approximately 8 years. After being admitted to the bar, Paul represented numerous contractors in contract disputes and mechanics liens, both with respect to commercial and residential properties. Not only as Paul represented construction companies, but he has also represented property owners who have been sued by contractors.