Sending a final account statement to debtors should be standard procedure for all Florida small businesses in order to avoid unnecessary legal expenses. Florida collections attorneys utilize many causes of action when filing suit; however, one such cause of action, account stated, has proven to be very successful in court.
“An account stated has been defined to be an agreement between persons who have had previous transactions, fixing the amount due in respect of such transactions, and promising payment.” Farley v. Chase Bank, U.S.A., N.A., 37 So. 3d 936, 937 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010)(quoting Martyn v. Arnold, 18 So. 791, 793 (Fla. 1895)). Unlike other causes of action – such as an open account – an account stated does not require that a complete itemization of the account be attached to a complaint.
In Farley, the plaintiff, Chase Bank, sued on an account stated theory over an unpaid credit card account and obtained summary judgment. Farley, 37 So. 3d at 937. The debtor, on appeal, argued that summary judgment should not have been granted as Chase Bank failed to provide an itemized copy of the account sued upon. Id.
The appellate court, in concluding that Chase Bank had met its burden in showing that summary judgment was appropriate, correctly pointed out that “[t]he cause of action [for account stated] is often based upon an implied promise. … [W]hen an account statement has ‘been rendered to and received by one who made no objection thereto within a reasonable time,’ a prima facie case for the correctness of the account and the liability of the debtor has been made.” Id.(citing Daytona Bridge Co. v. Bond, 36 So. 445, 447 (Fla. 1905); Gendzier v. Bielecki, 97 So. 2d 604, 608 (Fla. 1957).
By Chase Bank filing its lawsuit on an account stated theory, Chase Bank only had to prove that an implied promise to pay the resulting balance existed by way of the debtor’s failure to object to the final account statement within a reasonable amount of time. Had Chase Bank utilized other claims for relief, the debtor could have raised additional affirmative defenses, thus complicating an otherwise simple collections case.
To find out how the Gill Law Firm may help your small business collect its receivables, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (561) 454-0301.