A FINAL JUDGMENT ENTERED BY THE CIRCUIT COURT IS NOT VOID FOR SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION WHEN THE DAMAGES AWARDED ARE ULTIMATELY LESS THAN $15,000, AS LONG AS THE COMPLAINT SEEKS DAMAGES IN EXCESS OF THE JURISDICTIONAL AMOUNT IN GOOD FAITH.
Plutt v. Ross, 42 Fla. L. Weekly D2408 (Fla. 4th DCA November 8, 2017):
After final judgment was entered for the plaintiff for approximately $7,000, the defendants contended that the final judgment was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the amount in controversy did not ultimately exceed $15,000.
However, a court’s subject matter jurisdiction over a case generally depends on the good faith allegations in the complaint as to the amount in controversy, and the time to assess the good faith is at the point when the action is commenced.
Once jurisdiction is properly invoked by the complaint, the court then retains jurisdiction to enter an award irrespective of that amount. Without any evidence that the initial allegations were made in bad faith, the court had subject matter jurisdiction notwithstanding the amount of the final judgment.