Proposal would take small claims court from $5,000 to $8,000
A proposed procedural rule raising the jurisdictional amounts for small claims courts from $5,000 to $8,000 has been submitted to the Supreme Court.
The proposal would also require those filing civil actions in county court to list the amount in controversy.
Another section of the proposal amends appellate rules to conform to a new state law that provides that appeals from county courts on amounts between $15,000 and $30,000 go directly to district courts of appeal, bypassing the circuit courts.
The new amendments, along with other technical changes, were proposed by the Appellate Court Rules Committee, the Civil Procedure Rules Committee, and the Small Claims Rules Committee in response to a court directive to propose a rule raising the small claims court jurisdiction and respond to changes to Ch. 2019-58, Laws of Florida, which were approved by the Legislature earlier this year.
That law raises the civil court jurisdiction for county courts to $30,000 as of January 1, 2020, and boosts it to $50,000 three years later. The law also requires that appeals on amounts between $15,000 and $30,000 for civil actions in county court go to the district courts of appeal.
The proposals would also amend the civil cover sheet filed with new actions to state the amount of the claim. (The current cover sheet does not require a claim amount to be given in county court civil cases.) That change will allow the courts and state officials to track the effect of raising the civil jurisdiction limit. The Office of the State Courts Administrator is tasked with providing the Legislature a report on the impact of the jurisdictional change no later than February 1, 2021.
A Supreme Court workgroup studying judicial caseloads last year recommended raising the small claims jurisdiction to $8,000 and the court passed that to the Small Claims Rules Committee for action.
The committees, in accordance with the court’s charge, have not advertised their proposed amendments, but the Supreme Court will publish an official notice as part of its review process. The filings are docketed as SC19-1354.