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Filing Suit in Federal Court

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Filing Suit In Federal Court

Brien Roche

Filing suit in US District Court, also known as federal court, requires that the court have what is called subject matter jurisdiction. This is based on either diversity of citizenship or what is called a federal question. The former means that the suit is between citizens of two different states. A corporate entity is a citizen of the state where it was formed and where it has its principle place of business. In addition the amount at issue must exceed $75,000 aside from costs, interest and legal fees. A federal question arises from a U.S. constitutional question or from a U.S. statute.

Filing Suit in District Court Has To Be Weighed

For most lawyers there may also be practical factors to review. For instance in the northern Virginia area the US Court is not viewed as a friendly forum for a plaintiff in a tort claim. As a result most of the actions that I file are in state court. A defendant does have the right to remove a state court action to district court. However it must be done in a timely fashion and the above requirements must be met. Call, or contact us for a free consult.
The U.S. court in Northern Virginia is known as being a court that moves its cases very quickly and allows no delay. In addition, in state court in Virginia the plaintiff has an absolute right to dismiss their suit and refile it within six months. That right does not always exist in U.S. court. That right is a big plus for the plaintiff. It gives the lawyer for the plaintiff a great deal of control over the suit. The rules that govern U.S. courts are not the same as the rules that govern state courts. There is good and bad in both sets of rules for a plaintiff. Which set of rules favors the plaintiff more is a close call. As a result in some cases this may be one factor in favor of filing in federal court.

Snap removals

Some large corporations monitor filings in state court in order to promptly remove cases to federal court. This may be done in cases where there is a defendant that has been joined who is a citizen of the state where the suit was filed. The presence of this defendant destroys federal diversity and defeats federal jurisdiction. Therefore if you have filed in state court, have joined a defendant who is a citizen of that state and want to keep the case in state court you need to serve that defendant quickly. Failure to do so may result in “snap removal” to the US Court.

Heightened Pleading Requirements in US District Court

U.S. Courts have heightened the pleading rules for filing a lawsuit in U.S. Court.  The mandate now is that the Complaint, which is the set of suit papers first filed, must set forth enough facts to state a claim. That claim on its face must have enough facts to allow the Court to conclude that the defendant is liable for the conduct claimed.   In other words the pleading must include facts that support every element of every claim in the Complaint. 

There may be cases where that threshold pleading level cannot be complied with.  In those cases it may be proper to consider some early discovery. This will allow the plaintiff to obtain the facts called for. 

The long and short of this is that there may be pluses for filing in District Court in some cases. However in this area most plaintiffs fare better in state court.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

For more information on federal courts see the pages on Wikipedia. For more information on personal injury see the pages on this site.

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Filing Suit in Federal Court

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Filing Suit In Federal Court

Brien Roche

Filing suit in US District Court, also known as federal court, requires that the court have what is called subject matter jurisdiction. This is based on either diversity of citizenship or what is called a federal question. The former means that the suit is between citizens of two different states. A corporate entity is a citizen of the state where it was formed and where it has its principle place of business. In addition the amount at issue must exceed $75,000 aside from costs, interest and legal fees. A federal question arises from a U.S. constitutional question or from a U.S. statute.

Filing Suit in District Court Has To Be Weighed

For most lawyers there may also be practical factors to review. For instance in the northern Virginia area the US Court is not viewed as a friendly forum for a plaintiff in a tort claim. As a result most of the actions that I file are in state court. A defendant does have the right to remove a state court action to district court. However it must be done in a timely fashion and the above requirements must be met. Call, or contact us for a free consult.
The U.S. court in Northern Virginia is known as being a court that moves its cases very quickly and allows no delay. In addition, in state court in Virginia the plaintiff has an absolute right to dismiss their suit and refile it within six months. That right does not always exist in U.S. court. That right is a big plus for the plaintiff. It gives the lawyer for the plaintiff a great deal of control over the suit. The rules that govern U.S. courts are not the same as the rules that govern state courts. There is good and bad in both sets of rules for a plaintiff. Which set of rules favors the plaintiff more is a close call. As a result in some cases this may be one factor in favor of filing in federal court.

Snap removals

Some large corporations monitor filings in state court in order to promptly remove cases to federal court. This may be done in cases where there is a defendant that has been joined who is a citizen of the state where the suit was filed. The presence of this defendant destroys federal diversity and defeats federal jurisdiction. Therefore if you have filed in state court, have joined a defendant who is a citizen of that state and want to keep the case in state court you need to serve that defendant quickly. Failure to do so may result in “snap removal” to the US Court.

Heightened Pleading Requirements in US District Court

U.S. Courts have heightened the pleading rules for filing a lawsuit in U.S. Court.  The mandate now is that the Complaint, which is the set of suit papers first filed, must set forth enough facts to state a claim. That claim on its face must have enough facts to allow the Court to conclude that the defendant is liable for the conduct claimed.   In other words the pleading must include facts that support every element of every claim in the Complaint. 

There may be cases where that threshold pleading level cannot be complied with.  In those cases it may be proper to consider some early discovery. This will allow the plaintiff to obtain the facts called for. 

The long and short of this is that there may be pluses for filing in District Court in some cases. However in this area most plaintiffs fare better in state court.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

For more information on federal courts see the pages on Wikipedia. For more information on personal injury see the pages on this site.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation