Civil Recourse against Issuer of Worthless Check
Florida has a worthless check statute (Florida Statute s. 68.065) that authorizes treble damages plus the original amount of the check owing if a party issues a worthless check. This statute affords a strong civil remedy for a party (payee) that receives a worthless check.
The statute provides in material portion:
In any civil action brought for the purpose of collecting a payment instrument, the payment of which is refused by the drawee because of lack of funds, lack of credit, or lack of an account, or where the maker or drawer stops payment on the instrument with intent to defraud, and where the maker or drawer fails to pay the amount owing, in cash, to the payee within 30 days after a written demand therefor, as provided in subsection (4), the maker or drawer is liable to the payee, in addition to the amount owing upon such payment instrument, for damages of triple the amount so owing.
Fla. Stat. s. 68.065(3)(a).
This is certainly a hefty punishment for issuing a worthless check. And, of course, this serves as a hopeful deterrent for a party not to issue a worthless check.
As the statute states, one way to issue a worthless check is where the maker “stops payment on the instrument with intent to defraud.” The recipient of the check (payee) still has to prove that the maker intended to defraud him/her/it by stopping payment on the check. This is typically a factual issue. See Sanders Farm of Ocala, Inc. v. Bay Area Truck Sales, Inc., 43 Fla. L. Weekly D73a (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) (reversing summary judgment in favor of payee that received worthless check on de novo standard of appellate review because there was issue of fact as to whether maker stopped payment on a check with intent to defraud payee).
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