Federal Litigation

West Palm Beach, Florida Federal Commercial Litigation Attorney, Russell L. Forkey, Esq.

Federal Court Jurisdiction:

Within the commercial litigation section of our website, we have set forth and generally explained some of the claims that can form the basis of a commercial litigation dispute.  It is important to bear in mind that the information set forth is generic in nature and is being provided for education purposes only.  Thus, this information should not be relied upon as legal advice.  If you have any specific questions relative to any of the content contained herein, you should contact qualified legal counsel. 

In its most simplistic form, state courts generally can be said to handle disputes between individuals (citizens) or entities whose residence or place of incorporation is located in the same state.  Federal courts, on the other hand, are designed to handle, among other things, disputes between citizens or corporations residing in different states.  Generally, this means that all of the plaintiffs are citizens of one state and all of the defendants are citizens of other states.

In order to entertain an action, a federal district court must have at least one of three types of subject matter jurisdiction:

  • jurisdiction pursuant to a statutory grant;
  • federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or
  • diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

One of the first things that a district court is required to do is to inquire into whether it has subject matter jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in the proceeding and it is obligated to do so on its own whenever subject matter jurisdiction may be lacking.  If the district court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it is powerless to continue and must dismiss the complaint.

Federal Question Jurisdiction:

Federal question jurisdiction exist only when the "well pleaded" complaint standing alone establishes either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiffs' right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law. 

Diversity of Citizenship:

28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) limits a district court's diversity jurisdiction to matters that involve complete diversity of citizenship between the parties to an action and the action must involve an amount in controversy that exceeds at least $75,000.

Once the jurisdictional issues are resolved, it is then necessary for the instituting party to comply with all of the legal requirements necessary to state a recognized legal cause of action.

Based on the brief description above, it should be clear to the average person that before you consider filing a federal lawsuit, you should contact experienced litigation counsel.