Q: I live in Aus. A business in Florida accepted a 500$ deposit towards a future purchase, have sought a refund, ignored.
A: You definitely can file a small claim, and during the pandemic, Fla. courts are doing everything remotely (video or telephonic hearings). However, when the time arrives for them to start up in-person again, you might have a problem. The first stage in small claims, after filing and serving the claim on the defendant, is a pretrial conference, which the judge would probably to allow you to appear by phone, pandemic or not. However, if the case is not settled, it then goes to a trial in which you must appear before the judge to give your testimony. Right now, that is mostly being done through Zoom (videoconference). I suggest you call the Clerk of the Court in the County in which the business is located, explain your situation, and ask them what is the minimum number of months they expect to continue having small claims hearings and trials remotely. Depending on which county you're in, the small claims process from beginning to end will probably take 3 to 5 months. By the way, if you sue a business, you must determine if it's a corporation or LLC, in which case you must put that name as defendant, and you must serve the registered agent listed at Sunbiz.org.
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