DEBT COLLECTION DEFENSE
GENERAL DEBT COLLECTION LAWSUITS IN FLORIDA
These types of lawsuits are filed directly by the creditor (the company or bank that gave you the loan, product, or service) or an assignee (a company that bought the debt from the creditor) in the course of collection of delinquent accounts. The lawsuits are almost always brought in a state court, generally where you reside at the time the lawsuit is filed although there are exceptions to this.
The court in which the case is filed will depend on the amount in controversy EXCLUSIVE of interest, costs and attorneys’ fees. (NOTE that interest as mentioned here is not the interest which would have capitalized on a credit account prior to charge-off. Its interest that continues to accrue on top of the charge off or final balance due on the account)
In Florida, there are two trial-level courts which may have different divisions within them to help spread the caseload and administrative duties, accordingly. These are the County Court and the Circuit Court.
County Court has jurisdiction in cases which the amount in controversy is $15,000.00 or less, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorneys’ fees.
Small Claims Court is a division of the County Court which hears cases where the amount in controversy is $5,000.00 or less. Again, it is still County Court, just a division within the court.
Circuit Court has jurisdiction in cases which the amount in controversy is $15,000.01 or more. Circuit courts are the first level appellate courts for county court.
It is important to pay close attention to your case when you have been sued by a creditor. If you ignore it, there is a chance that it will come back to haunt you months or years later when you least expect it. A judgment in Florida is good for twenty years from the date of issue. There is no requirement that a judgment creditor keep in touch with you or give you any advance notice of continued collection efforts throughout that twenty years.
Unfortunately, many of these lawsuits go unanswered (or the defendant fails to appear, if it's a small claim case) and the court enters a default as a matter of course. At this point, the creditor simply needs to submit affidavits to the court and a final judgment can be entered without the need for any further notice or hearings.
Once the debt is reduced to a judgment, Florida law provides the creditor with a variety of unpleasant collection methods such as property liens, wage and bank garnishment and property levy.