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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118257
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I filed a small claims in Miami-dade county. The defendant

Customer Question

I filed a small claims in Miami-dade county. The defendant was a no show to the pre-trial hearing and later filed a motion to vacate the judgement. In their presentation to the judge they claimed the registered agent of the association could not remember being served and if he had forwarded the document to the association main office. The Judge denied the motion and offered them the opportunity for an evidentiary hearing. Now I am told that I most contact the sheriffs office and have the process server appear as a witness to the fact that he served the registered agent. I thought the document the process server sent me was proof enough?! Why allow the evindetiary hearing?!?!? Is there anything I can do at this point or do I need to continue going back?

Also I was told there is going to be a hearing where I must show proof of damages, however we can't go there until the previous motions are heard! Wow no wonder people get frustrated with the legal system.

What are my options? Also can I due anything about the time I am missing from work, parking and all the additional cost I am incurring having to go back. I am already suing for the maximum 5000.00...
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

Under FL law, default judgment is considered the least favored judgment and the courts prefer judgment based on a trial on the merits. It is for this reason courts are liberal in vacating default judgments. The court is allowing for an evidentiary hearing for you to present proof they were properly served and if they were properly served, the "I don't remember" defense will not carry their motion and the court will refuse to vacate the judgment. If the court denies to vacate the judgment and you had not been at the maximum already, you could have asked for additional damages, but I am sorry to say that all small claims can award you is $5000 and not a penny more, so at this point you really have no legal options to get anything more from this matter other than winning the judgment in your favor because it is beyond the jurisdiction of the court to give you more. Since you filed the suit in small claims, you cannot even move it to the regular civil division to claim more money I am afraid because you made your choice of the limited small claims court.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I went to small claims at the advice of 3 different attorneys that told me the case would take to long and cost to much. Believe me I wanted to go after them for more. The judge also stated he did not want to hear from anyone about this anymore... That's what I do not get, I took that as meaning that the attorney for the defendant should just work it out with me.


At this point I guess I need to focus on not having this judgement vacated on their claim of "I don't remember", if they are claiming otherwise.. Do they need to tell me before I go to the hearing. In your opinion are they just hoping I give up?


Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

I do understand why you went to small claims and the attorneys were likely right, but unfortunately that does not change the fact that all the small claims court can award is the $5000.

It means that the court does not want to hear excuses from the defendant and wants you to present your proof proper service was made so he can slam the door shut on the defendant and cause them to lose any hope they have of appeal. In calling for the evidentiary hearing the judge is helping you by making you show you did properly serve the defendant so if they try to appeal his default judgment they would lose.

The defendant is just hoping to cause you to lose more time from work and irritate you, because they know at this point with the judge calling for an evidentiary hearing that once the sheriff testifies on service their goose is cooked.

Unfortunately, that is just one of the issues with our legal system, but at the end of the day if you win the $5000, even with some inconvenience, it is still a win.