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Jurisdiction: Suing in the Right Court

When initially assessing a lawsuit, one major factor to consider is getting your suit filed in the right court. Having an understanding of how the various courts will impact your case can be a big difference in winning or losing your lawsuit, and can have a whole host of ramifications.

First, you will want to determine whether to have your lawsuit take place in state court or federal court. This is important because these courts apply different procedural rules to your case, and can have different standards that apply to different types of motions. For example, in federal court, the standard on a motion to dismiss is much lower for the party that wants to dismiss the other’s case than the standard is in North Carolina state court. Federal courts are only reserved, however, for cases where all the parties are diverse from one another, or where a federal law is called into question. Some cases can be "removed" from state to federal court upon the simple whim of one of the parties, if they believe federal law is in play.

Even if you remain in state court, if there are parties located in a number of different states, then you’ll need to determine which state is the best state for your lawsuit. The laws and procedural rules of the various states must be taken into account. For example, some states, when determining the contents of a written contract, will also look beyond the contract language itself to determine a contract’s meaning. Other states will not permit this analysis unless an ambiguity is first found in the document. Knowing how the laws of the various states will come into play can make a big difference.

From a subject-matter perspective, you’ll need to file in the correct court, even within state court. In North Carolina, if your controversy has a dollar value that exceeds $25,000, then you need to file your suit in Superior Court, rather than in District Court. Finally, you must determine if a special court, like the North Carolina Business Court, or a specially appointed judge, is appropriate for your lawsuit. Special courts have unique advantages, and can provide continuity and predictability to a lawsuit where they might otherwise not exist.

If you have a potential lawsuit on your hands, but you’re unsure of which court might be best for your lawsuit, then we recommend you call the civil and trial attorneys at Asheville Legal a call today. We can help you solve this strategy dilemma and many other litigation-related problems.

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