Before You File

Before filing a civil complaint, what issues should the paralegal be considering?

The following are two important things to consider:

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

  • State or Federal
  1. If federal, is it a federal question?  (Arising out of the Constitution, Laws and Treaties of the U.S.?)
  2. If federal, is it based on Diversity Jurisdiction?  (Diversity of Citizenship and over $75,000 in controversy?
  3. If state, is it unlimited (over $25,000 in damages) or limited (under $25,000.00 in damages).
  • Special Issues in state court
  1. If state court, it something that must be filed in the unlimited jurisdiction court, e.g. Domestic Matters, Probate, Trusts, Guardianships, and Conservatorships.
  2. If state court, is it something that could be filed in small claims court, e.g. under $7,500 for an individual.

Personal Jurisdiction

  • Resident defendant
  • Non-resident defendant
  1. In rem jurisdiction (over real property in the state)
  2. Quasi in rem jurisdiction (over personal property in the state)
  3. Long-arm statute (minimum contacts)
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