Friday, November 26, 2010

Drafting a Complaint: The Jurisdictional Statement

Many courts require a jurisdictional statement.  Always check the local rules.  If something is required, put it in.

In New York State practice, a jurisdictional statement is not required, but it is customary when seeking money damages in the state Supreme Court to put a statement in the Demand for Relief that the anticipated damages exceed the jurisdiction of the lower courts.  The New York State Supreme Court is a court of general jurisdiction: you can file any case, about anything (unless it is exclusively Federal), for any monetary amount.  When dealing with smaller amounts, however, there are lower courts where, as a matter of administrative convenience, such cases should be filed.  Cases below $25,000 belong in the County Courts ("Civil Court" in New York City); below $15,000 belongs in the District Courts; and below $3,000 should go to a small claims court.  If you file in the Supreme Court, and the Judges feel the case should go somewhere else, they will send it to a lower court under C.P.L.R. 325(d).  

The Federal Courts are where Jurisdictional Statements are typically required.  For a Federal Court to have power to hear a case, it must be either a Federal Question (i.e. arising under either a Federal Statute, the U.S. Constitution, Maritime law, or a Treaty), or be between citizens of different states and involve more than $75,000 in dispute.  See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 1332.  

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