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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Can't I File a Lawsuit in Federal Court



Today, I want to share with you a discussion that I had with a new client who recently came into my. The client came in and they wanted me to take a look at what they believed was a good lawsuit and they wanted me to file the suit in federal court.

After spending some time discussing the facts with the client and reviewing the documents that they brought in, I concluded that they were not permitted to file their case in federal court however, the case could be filed in state court and the client asked me to explain to him why it couldn't be brought in federal court.

Well, in order to bring a case in federal court your case must satisfy certain requirements and the two typical requirements are: one, diversity of citizenship and two, that your case has reached the amount in controversy. Now, that's all confusing lawyer talk so let’s break it down.

Diversity of citizenship basically means that you, the plaintiff are not entitled to bring an action against a resident of your state in federal court, so if you want to sue Kelly and Kelly is in New Jersey and you live in New Jersey, you're not going to be able to bring that action in federal court. However, if Kelly was in Florida then diversity of citizenship exists.

It works similarly with corporations a corporation is not entitled to bring a federal court lawsuit against another corporation or individual that resides within the same state and for purposes of citizenship corporations are usually deemed to be citizens of either the state in which they're incorporated, or the state which they have their principal place of business. So, diversity of citizenship is first.

You also must meet the amount in controversy. In federal court, it's seventy five thousand dollars so you've got to have a claim that reaches seventy five thousand dollars in potential damages and it's not good enough to just say I believe that my case is worth seventy five thousand you've got to have a good-faith basis in order to allege that your case needs the amount of controversy. So you need both diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy.

There are other times that claims might not have the diversity requirement met and can be brought in federal court, but those are limited circumstances and they involve cases that deal with questions of federal law.

 If you have any questions concerning whether or not your case is entitled to be brought in federal court, I encourage you to pick up the phone and call me. I answer questions just like yours on a daily basis and I look forward to speaking with you and answering your legal questions. I can be reached via telephone at nine seven three nine four nine thirty seven seventy or via e-mail at plamont@peterlamont.esq.com. Thank you for joining me.

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