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Location Matters – Where You Can and Can’t Bring Lawsuits

Civil matters (a lawsuit between two citizens, as opposed to the State and a citizen) can only be heard in specific courts. The State courts and the Federal courts operate separately, but concurrently, and handle different types of cases, incidents, and lawsuits. States have many different types of courts, including ones that hear criminal matters, civil matters, trust and estate cases, and juvenile and family law matters. “Jurisdiction” is fitting a case into the proper category, so that the court may properly hear the case.

“Proper venue” is the term describing the actual location of the court, and whether that place is proper to hear the case or controversy. Usually, the venue must be the place where either the parties live or the event underlying the case occurred. If a plaintiff falls in Philadelphia and wants to bring suit, the proper venue and court to hear the case would be in Philadelphia, not in Montgomery County.

Federal courts hear only specific kinds of cases; where the parties are from different states and — the amount in question is over $75,000, bankruptcy is involved, and questions involving federal law or the Constitution specifically. Because of this difference, State courts are said to have “general jurisdiction,” while Federal courts are limited by “subject-matter jurisdiction.”

State & Federal Law

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