When Can I File My Case in Federal Court?

When Can I File My Case in Federal Court?

One of the assessments that you and your attorney will make when it comes time to file your case will be whether to file it in state or federal court. There are limited situations where you can file a case in federal court. One is where the claims that you are bringing arise out of a federal law, such as a Civil Rights Act claim.

The second type of case that can be filed in federal court is referred to as a “diversity claim,” which means that (1) the case is claiming more than $75,000 in damages and (2) all of the parties are citizens of different states. Both of these elements must be satisfied. Such a situation could arise if a resident of West Virginia is struck by a negligent driver who is a resident of Pennsylvania and seeks to recover damages arising out of the accident that are more than $75,000. Because the two parties are residents of different states and the damages are in excess of $75,000, the West Virginia plaintiff could choose to file his case in federal court. 

If federal court is an option for where you may file your lawsuit, your lawyer will discuss with you the reasons that it may be preferable over state court and reasons that federal court may not be the better option. Some of the pros and cons of federal court versus state court may include the type of case that you are filing and the laws that will be at issue in your case, the procedural rules of each court, and the historical results of trials and verdicts in both the federal and state courts for your types of cases. There may be a variety of other reasons that your attorney would suggest one court over the other depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your particular case. 

If you and your attorney decide that a state court filing is the better option for you and your case, your attorney may also warn you of the possibility that the defendant seeks to remove the case from state court to the available federal court. Similar to the plaintiff’s decision to file the case in federal court, the defendant can only seek removal if the case could have been filed in federal court in the first place. The case must fit either arise out of federal law or fit the “diversity claim” elements for removal to federal court. If the defendant does seek removal, you and your attorney can discuss whether you wish to challenge the removal and ask the federal court to remand the case back to state court, or whether you wish to proceed with the case in federal court. Again, this discussion and determination will be based on a number of case-specific factors, and will usually involve balancing some pros and cons. 

Regardless of whether your case proceeds through state or federal court, the actual litigation will run similarly in either court. You will likely engage in discovery, both written and by deposition, your attorney will file and respond to various motions, you will probably attend a mediation to discuss out-of-court settlement of your matter, and if mediation or negotiations fail, your attorney will prepare for trial. Attorneys at Bordas & Bordas have experience with filing and litigating cases in many different courts, both federal and state, and are available to discuss your legal situation with you to determine and explain your options. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Today's blog: If you're ever in need of an attorney for anything that occurs in life, there is a possibility you will both decide your case needs to be taken to federal court. Here are a few reasons why that might happen and how your lawyer will go about it with you and your loved ones.