Experienced Phoenix Business Lawyers Manage Federal Court Litigation
Trustworthy representation for plaintiffs and defendants
The United States has two parallel civil court systems: the federal courts and the courts of the individual states. The federal court has limited jurisdiction, so civil cases are less likely to be heard there. As a consequence, fewer lawyers have federal court experience. And since the federal court system has different rules of procedure and often handles complex cases involving interstate activity, even the most experienced state court attorneys can be out of their element. At Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth P.C. in Phoenix, our business litigation team comprises seasoned attorneys who know the federal system. We handle both trials and appeals, so you get the benefit of consistent representation at every level.
Why do civil cases go to federal court?
The vast majority of civil matters are tried in state courts. Cases wind up in the federal system only if one of the following types of jurisdiction exists:
- Subject matter jurisdiction — The dispute arises under federal law, raises a question under the U.S. Constitution requires an interpretation of a national treaty.
- Diversity jurisdiction — The suit involves parties from or property in different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. In such a case, the federal court applies state law when it hears the case.
The federal court is also the venue for U.S. companies to sue foreign individuals or corporations.
Distinctions of having a case tried in federal court versus state court
Some cases must go to federal court because of subject matter. But in many cases a plaintiff has a choice of whether to file in state or federal court. In addition, a defendant may have the option to remove a case from state court to federal court. Almost always, the choice of forum is part of the trial strategy. Attorneys might seek to initiate a federal court claim for one of or more of many reasons, such as:
- More time for complex cases — Because of their jurisdictional limits, the federal courts have a lighter case load than state courts, so they can spend more time on individual cases. This gives litigants more of an opportunity for thorough consideration.
- Eliminating the home field advantage — There is a perceived local prejudice in favor of state residents who sue out-of-state defendants, especially large corporations, in state court. Removing the case to federal court may put these defendants on more neutral ground.
- Potentially lower awards — Studies have shown that federal court juries tend to give lower damage awards, which is an advantage for defendants.
- Limits on discovery — The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure limit the scope and duration of discovery so that it cannot be abused as an attrition tactic to wear an opponent down.
- Greater chance of summary judgment — Federal judges and their clerks carefully scrutinize all pleadings. As a consequence, judges are more inclined to rule on the papers alone that a plaintiff has or has not presented a viable case. Summary judgment and other dispositive motion rulings can avert the time and expense of going to trial.
Some lawyers will tell you that as a general rule, federal court is better for defendants and that state court is better for plaintiffs. The reality is more complex and there are many factors a party must weigh before deciding to go to federal court. Our business litigation attorneys have the knowledge and experience to assess your case and help you choose the right path.
Contact our Phoenix business litigation lawyers for federal court representation
Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth P.C. in Phoenix provides determined representation for plaintiffs and defendants in the federal court system. Call our talented and experienced business attorneys at 866-696-2033 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our firm is easily accessed either by light rail or car, with plenty of available parking.