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When Filing a Lawsuit What Court Should I Be In?

Aug 24, 2021 | Commercial Litigation, General

To file a lawsuit, you have two options. You can sue on the state level or you can sue in the federal court system.

How do you know where your case belongs? And what are the advantages of each option?

A person bringing a lawsuit only two ways to hear a case in federal court. A federal court needs “subject matter jurisdiction” to hear a case.  Subject Matter Jurisdiction is basically checking to see if a court is authorized by the law to hear a case.  Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, so to find subject matter jurisdiction, you either need diversity jurisdiction or be based on a federal question.

Federal question is a case is based on a federal law. A case can be heard in the federal courts if it is in one area of law where the federal courts have original jurisdiction, such as securities law, maritime law, patent law, or cases where an individual is suing the United States.

A case based on diversity jurisdiction means that both parties (Defendant and Plaintiff) must be domiciled in a different state.  Being domiciled means living in a state intending to remain there indefinitely. Additionally, the amount in controversy needs to exceed $75,000.

If a case cannot be heard in federal court, then it should be in state court. And then those cases could be heard in either state or federal court. If so, what do you do? Well, that all depends on the state and your ultimate goal. Certain states are known for having slower courts. Other states are known for having more favorable outcomes in certain types of disputes or matters. Each state is different.

To determine what is best for you, research your state and consult with an experienced lawyer who can help determine the optimal course for your matter.

Contact Brinen & Associates


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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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