Category: Civil Procedure

What are the major stages of a civil litigation?

This video will walk you through major stages of a civil litigation beginning with the Complaint followed by Defendant’s Response (including the Answer and Motion to Dismiss), Discovery, Summary Judgment, Trial, and the Appeal. The video is very general.  Don’t forget you can search for additional content using the search and category buttons in the right sidebar. More on the Answer is here and here More on the Motion to Dismiss is here. More on Discovery is here.  ...

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For diversity jurisdiction, how does a court determine the amount in controversy?

28 USC § 1332 and Calculating Amount in Controversy 28 USC §1332 provides that where plaintiffs and defendants are from different states, a federal court may assert diversity subject matter  jurisdiction if the ‘amount in controversy’ exceeds $75,000. How is the amount in controversy calculated? As a general rule, courts will defer to the plaintiff’s good-faith demand in her complaint.  For example, if a plaintiff alleges, in good-faith, that she suffered $80,000 in damages, this should be enough to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement.  Even if the plaintiff recovers $1,000, significantly less than the threshold requirement, this will not affect subject matter jurisdiction. However, if the court concludes to a “legal certainty” that the amount in controversy is insufficient, then the court should dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  For example, let’s say a plaintiff sues over an alleged breach of contract.   If the contract has a clause that limits liability to $50,000, then the court will probably dismiss the case on grounds that the amount in controversy does not satisfy the threshold requirements of 28 USC § 1332. Aggregating Claims If a plaintiff has multiple claims against a single defendant then we may aggregate claims.  For example, a $40,000 breach of contract claim and a $50,000 tort claim against one defendant can be combined.  $90,000 > $75,000. But courts may not aggregate claims against multiple defendants or claims by multiple plaintiffs.  ...

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What is Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1?

Rule 62.1 allows a District Court (a trial level federal court) to indicate to a Circuit Court (an appellate level federal court) that it would  reconsider its previous ruling if the Circuit Court would return the case back to the District Court. Consider the following situation: A party receives an unfavorable ruling in a District Court.  While an appeal is pending before the Circuit Court, the party realizes that it did not provide the District Court with an important piece of evidence.  Unfortunately,  it is too late for the District Court to grant a motion for reconsideration.   Rule 62.1 enables that party to ask the District Court to indicate that it believes a motion for reconsideration has merit.    If the District Court agrees and states that the motion has merit, then the party may ask the Circuit Court to remand (return) the case back to the District Court.   Once the District Court has the case back from the Circuit Court, it may grant the motion for reconsideration.  ...

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What is judgment notwithstanding the verdict?

Judgment notwithstanding the verdict in State Courts Judgment notwithstanding the verdict is where a judge decides that the jury reached a verdict that is so obviously wrong that the judge may substitute his own judgment for the jury’s verdict.  Judgment notwithstanding the verdict is very unusual and only where a judge determines that no rational jury could have reached that verdict. For example, let’s say a plaintiff sues a defendant for breaking a contract.  But during the trial the plaintiff presents no evidence that he and the defendant ever entered into a contract.  Incredibly, the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant could then move the court (ask the court) for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict.  If the judge decides that the jury’s verdict was irrational, he could rule that the defendant is not liable.  The verdict is nullified and replaced with the judge’s decision.  The judge was not just disagreeing with the jury.  The judge was saying that because there was no evidence that the parties ever had a contract, it was irrational for the jury to find in favor of the plaintiff. Federal Courts are Different If you are looking for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in the federal courts, you won’t find it.  Instead, federal courts provide for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure....

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What is venue?

short definition Venue means the court in which a case or a trial takes place.   Venue rules tell the plaintiff in which court  he is allowed to start his case.  These rules also enable the defendant to ask a court to dismiss and, in some cases,  transfer a case if venue is inappropriate.   The federal court system has venue rules and each state court system has venue rules, too. State Court Venue States are divided into counties.  For example, New York is divided into 62 counties (Westchester County, Rockland County, etc).  Each county has a court that is part of the New York State court system.   Now let’s say a driver from Westchester County smashes into a car driven by someone from Dutchess County and the accident takes place in Erie County. We’ll assume that the driver who was hit decides to sue the other driver in New York State court.  But if New York has 62 counties, in which county should the trial take place?  Remember, each of the courts in each of the counties is part of the New York State court system,   New York State venue rules tell the plaintiff in which county he may sue the defendant.  Based on our example, assuming that the  rules in New York allow our plaintiff to select a county in which any party resides, he could choose...

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