For claims or disputes under $2,500, file a small claims action in the proper Justice Court. Each court has a different jurisdictional area, or "precinct". You must file in either the precinct where the defendant lives or the precinct where the underlying action occurred. When filing a small claims action, you can NOT recover attorneys fees. If you want to recover attorneys fees, you must file a different type of suit. This type of case has the smallest filing fee. As of June 2010, the filing fee is $26.
Justice Court - Civil
For claims under $10,000. This type of action takes place in the same court (Justice Court) as a small claims action but the dispute amount is from $1 to $9,999.99. Attorneys fees can also be awarded in a regular civil action in justice court. If you originally filed in small claims, however, and now want to have an attorney handle the matter, you can file a motion to transfer the case to the civil division of the Justice Court. You just need to pay the difference in the filing fees. As of June 2010, the filing fee is $80.
Superior Court - Civil
Filing fees are highest in Superior Court. Currently they are over $300 to initiate the action. Procedures are followed much more strictly in Superior Court and you will be handled by either a Commissioner or a Judge to adjudicate your case. There is no limit to the amount you can sue for in Superior Court. Of course, the prevailing party is usually awarded attorneys' fees and costs in Superior Court civil matters.
There are strict jurisdictional requirements for filing an action in federal court. Before initiating an action in federal court, you should contact an attorney. The rules are very different than filing in state courts. Federal courts will not handle cases that don't meet strict requirements. For example, the case must involve either a governmental agency, involve a dispute between residents of two different states and involve an amount over $75,000 or involve an issue related to federal law.
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