final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Eric C.
L. Weinreb, Jacksonville, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, and Timothy L. Newhall, Senior
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee
Honorable John Moran.
challenges the circuit court's denial of her petition for
writ of mandamus to compel Duval County Judge John Moran to
grant her requests for jury trial in the pending county court
case. Because the circuit court was not reviewing any order
entered by the county court, and the record lacks any such
order or ruling, the appeal of the circuit court's order
invokes this court's appellate jurisdiction, not this
court's second-tier review or certiorari jurisdiction.
Compare Fla. R. App. P. 9.110 & 9.100. We affirm
the order on appeal because the circuit court's denial of
the writ of mandamus was correct.
is the defendant and counterclaim plaintiff in a county court
action initiated in 2013 by Benjamin H. Clark, her former
fiancé. Mr. Clark, as plaintiff in the county court,
filed a statement of claim under rule 7.050, Florida Small
Claims Rules, seeking the return of the engagement ring or
the monetary value thereof ($5, 000.00) from Appellant. Upon
the filing of the claim, the notice to appear for pretrial
conference was issued to both parties. See Fla. Sm.
Cl. R. 7.060. Appellant timely filed her answer and
counterclaim, including her request for jury trial.
See Fla. Sm. Cl. R. 7.150. Appellant admitted that
she and Mr. Clark had been engaged to be married but denied
that he was entitled to return of the ring or its monetary
value upon the termination of the engagement. In her
counterclaim, Appellant sought a declaratory judgment of her
right to retain the ring but did not request monetary relief.
before the scheduled pre-trial conference, Appellant filed
her motion to transfer the case "to county court,"
based on her allegation that her counterclaim raised an
amount in controversy which exceeded the small claims
jurisdictional threshold of $5, 000.00. See Fla. Sm.
Cl. R. 7.010(b). Consequently, the court scheduled a hearing
on this motion and cancelled the pre-trial conference.
hearing, the county court denied Appellant's motion to
transfer the case. The county judge noted that the case was
pending in county court, that the amount in controversy did
not exceed $15, 000.00, and that transfer within the county
court - from small claims to civil - was not available
because a county court hears both small claims and other
civil claims up to $15, 000.00. See §
34.01(2)(c), Fla. Stat. (2014). Neither the transcript of the
hearing nor the court's written order indicate that
Appellant raised her demand for jury trial during the hearing
on the motion to transfer.
continued her quest to litigate the amount in controversy,
filing a motion for rehearing and thereafter, a petition for
writ of mandamus in the circuit court to compel transfer of
the case within the county court. The circuit court denied
the writ, finding that the county court did not have a
separate division for small claims, that less than $15,
000.00 was at issue, and the county court had jurisdiction
over the case regardless of whether it applied the Small
Claims Rules or the Rules of Civil Procedure. Appellant's
motion for rehearing of the circuit court's order was
months later, on January 17, 2018, Appellant filed another
petition for writ of mandamus in the circuit
court. In that second petition she sought to
compel the county court to grant her demand for jury trial as
contained in her answer and counterpetition filed January 21,
2014. She argued that she was entitled to a jury trial due to
the amount in controversy, rather than any error by the
county court in an order or other denial of a request for
trial. The circuit court again denied the petition for writ
of mandamus, finding that Appellant had not demonstrated that
the county court failed or was failing to perform a
ministerial, non-discretionary official duty, as required for
issuance of the writ. Here, Appellant appeals that denial.
appears to misapprehend the nature of Florida Small Claims
Rules which do not create a separate "Small Claims
Court" even if colloquially referred to by that name.
"[F]or the purposes of the concept of subject matter
jurisdiction, a county court that applies the Florida Small
Claims Rules in a particular proceeding is not a separate
court from a county court that applies the Florida Rules of
Civil Procedure." LaSalla v. Pools by George of
Pinellas Cty, Inc., 125 So.3d 1016, 1016 (Fla. 2d DCA
2013). "This is true even if a county court has elected
to create a 'small claims division' to handle cases
under the Florida Small Claims Rules." Id.
second petition for writ of mandamus filed by Appellant in
the circuit court is similar to the petition for writ of
mandamus to compel a judge to set a case for trial in
Parkinson v. Kia Motors Corp., 54 So.3d 604 (Fla.
5th DCA 2011). The court in Parkinson denied the
petition for writ of mandamus because the "trial court
has not refused to set a trial date." Id. at
607. There the court recognized the trial court's duty to
set a matter for trial once the case was "at issue and
properly noticed". Id.
the situation in Parkinson, however, Appellant did
not point to any motion or request she made to set a jury
trial, other than her general demand in her pleadings. She
makes no reference to a notice for trial by any party under
rule 1.440, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, or any order
issued by ...