Think Twice Before Stopping Payment, or Issuing Payment That is Refused for Insufficient Funds. Florida Law Exposes the Maker or Drawer to Triple Damages, Bank Fees, Attorney Fees, and Court Costs

Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 68.065, a party who issues payment that is refused due to lack of funds, lack of credit, or lack of an account, or a party who stops payment with an intent to defraud, is subject to significant penalties if a party is forced to file a civil action for the purpose of collecting the payment.  The relevant Florida statute applies to payment in the form of a check, draft, order of payment, debit card order, or electronic funds transfer.

  1. Condition Precedent.  Before filing a lawsuit to collect payment, a written demand must be delivered by certified or registered mail, evidenced by return receipt, or by first-class mail, evidenced by an affidavit of service of mail, to the maker or drawer of the payment instrument to the address on the instrument, to the address given by the drawer at the time the instrument was issued, or to the drawer’s last known address. The form of such notice shall be substantially as follows:  “You are hereby notified that a check, draft, order of payment, debit card order, or electronic funds transfer numbered   in the face amount of $  issued by you on   (date)  , drawn upon   (name of bank)  , and payable to  , has been dishonored. Pursuant to Florida law, you have 30 days from receipt of this notice to tender payment in cash of the full amount of the dishonored payment instrument, plus a service charge of $25 if the face value does not exceed $50, $30 if the face value exceeds $50 but does not exceed $300, $40 if the face value exceeds $300, or 5 percent of the face amount of the dishonored instrument, whichever is greater, the total amount due being $  and   cents. Unless this amount is paid in full within the 30-day period, the holder of the dishonored payment instrument may file a civil action against you for three times the amount of the dishonored instrument, but in no case less than $50, in addition to the payment of the dishonored instrument plus any court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and any bank fees incurred by the payee in taking the action.”
  2. Remedies.  The party seeking to collect payment may collect the amount owed, damages of triple the amount owed, bank fees or service fees, reasonable attorney fees, court costs, and interest. Criminal sanctions, as provided in s. 832.07, may also be applicable
  3. Defenses.  In order to avoid exposure to triple the amount owed, after commencement of the action but before the hearing, the maker or drawer may pay, as satisfaction of the claim, an amount of money equal to amount owed, the service charge, court costs, and incurred bank fees.  Other provisions notwithstanding, the maker or drawer is liable to the payee for all attorney fees and collection costs incurred by the payee as a result of the payee’s claim.  The court or jury also has the discretion to waive all or part of the statutory damages if it is determined that the failure of the maker or drawer to satisfy the payment was due to "economic hardship."

Joel Ewusiak represents parties in disputes involving the failure to issue proper payments for good and services.  Please contact Joel for legal assistance with your particular dispute.