While my practice is predominately criminal I started in civil litigation and an area that I really think can help people in terms of prompting wrong-doers attempting to separate them from their money and/or services is the "Florida Civil Theft" Statute. The Statute states as follows:
772.11 Civil remedy for theft or exploitation.—
(1) Any person who proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she has been injured in any fashion by reason of any violation of ss. 812.012-812.037 or s. 825.103(1) has a cause of action for threefold the actual damages sustained and, in any such action, is entitled to minimum damages in the amount of $200, and reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts. Before filing an action for damages under this section, the person claiming injury must make a written demand for $200 or the treble damage amount of the person liable for damages under this section. If the person to whom a written demand is made complies with such demand within 30 days after receipt of the demand, that person shall be given a written release from further civil liability for the specific act of theft or exploitation by the person making the written demand. Any person who has a cause of action under this section may recover the damages allowed under this section from the parents or legal guardian of any unemancipated minor who lives with his or her parents or legal guardian and who is liable for damages under this section. Punitive damages may not be awarded under this section. The defendant is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts upon a finding that the claimant raised a claim that was without substantial fact or legal support. In awarding attorney’s fees and costs under this section, the court may not consider the ability of the opposing party to pay such fees and costs. This section does not limit any right to recover attorney’s fees or costs provided under any other law.
(2) For purposes of a cause of action arising under this section, the term “property” does not include the rights of a patient or a resident or a claim for a violation of such rights.
(3) This section does not impose civil liability regarding the provision of health care, residential care, long-term care, or custodial care at a licensed facility or care provided by appropriately licensed personnel in any setting in which such personnel are authorized to practice.
(4) The death of an elderly or disabled person does not cause the court to lose jurisdiction of any claim for relief for theft or exploitation when the victim of the theft or exploitation is an elderly or disabled person.
(5) In a civil action under this section in which an elderly or disabled person is a party, the elderly or disabled person may move the court to advance the trial on the docket. The presiding judge, after consideration of the age and health of the party, may advance the trial on the docket. The motion may be filed and served with the civil complaint or at any time thereafter.
This statute essentially states that should someone have "defrauded" you of an asset/money(s) which is/are rightfully yours, you may send a letter containing the aforementioned verbiage from the statute (cited above) via certified mail (return receipt requested) and should said party NOT return your money(s) owed within the 30 (thirty) day period proscribed by the statute, you may thereafter file suit for triple the amount owed, attorney fees, and costs.
This statute helps to avail those wronged by a party who may otherwise have no incentive to return expropriated money as it carries the weight of potentially paying TRIPLE. Should you desire to further explore the potential for treble damages in your case contact our office and we can set up a free initial consultation.