Frequently Asked Questions regarding Litigation
The first step is to send what is known as a Demand Letter. The Demand Letter is sent to the party that owes you money and informs them that, 1. You have an attorney, 2. A demand is made for the money that is owed, and 3. If the money is not paid, a lawsuit will be filed. At Widerman Malek, PL, we send a copy of the lawsuit (the “Complaint”) with the Demand Letter. If the party refuses to pay the money, the Complaint is filed with the Court.
Once a Complaint is filed, the party who has been sued is served with the lawsuit and has 20 days to respond to the Complaint. If an Answer is not filed, a Default Judgment can be entered by the Court.
For claims between $1 and $100, the filing fee is $55. For claims between $101 and $500, the filing fee is $80. For claims between $501 and $2500, the filing fee is $175. For claims between $2501 and $5000, the filing fee is $300, and for all claims over $5000, the filing fee is $301. To file a counterclaim or a cross claim in any action requires a filing fee of $295. These fees are charged by the Court.
If the defendant has filed a motion or other paper, but not an answer, you can amend by right without leave of court one time. If the defendant has filed an answer and you wish to amend your complaint, you must seek leave of court to do so. Most court’s follow the standard of liberally granting amendments to pleadings.
Your best chance of serving a corporation is serving the registered agent. You can find out the identity of the registered agent by going onto www.sunbiz.org and looking up the corporation. All Florida corporations are required to keep one or more registered agents available to accept service of process between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. If a corporation does not have a registered agent available during those times, service may be accomplished by serving the President, Vice President, or other head of the corporation, and if none of them are available, a cashier, treasurer, general manager; and if none of them are available, a director or any officer residing in the state.
If you are the Plaintiff, you cannot serve a Proposal for Settlement earlier than ninety (90) days after service of the complaint upon the Defendant. If you are the Defendant, you cannot serve a Proposal for Settlement on the Plaintiff earlier than ninety (90) days after the suit was commenced. As to either party, no Proposal for Settlement shall be served later than forty-five (45) days before the trial date.
You have one hundred and twenty (120) days after filing suit to effectuate service of process on any Defendant. If you cannot locate the Defendant within that time frame to effectuate service of process, you are required to file a motion with the court seeking an extension of time to effectuate service. If you fail to do this, the court, with proper notice, may dismiss your complaint or drop the Defendant.