District Court Jurisdiction Increases on September 1, 2019
ALABAMA DISTRICT COURT JURISDICTIONAL LIMIT INCREASES TO $20,000.00
The Alabama legislature recently amended the statute regarding District Court jurisdiction. The amendment will significantly change the procedure for lawsuits filed in District Court. Beginning September 1, 2019, the jurisdictional limit in District Court will increase from $10,000.00 to $20,000.00. That means that cases can be brought in District Court in which recovery being sought is $20,000.00 or less. The amendment also creates “concurrent jurisdiction” between District Courts and Circuit Courts. Essentially, if Plaintiff seeks an amount between $6,000.00 and $20,000.00, the Defendant can “remove” the case to Circuit Court, requesting a jury trial. If the Defendant wants to remove a case to Circuit Court, it must do so within thirty (30) days from the date of service. A word of caution: Removal to Circuit Court by a Defendant automatically eliminates the $20,000.00 jurisdictional limit on damages. Therefore, if a Defendant elects to remove the case to Circuit Court, and requests a jury trial, recovery is no longer limited to $20,000.00.
This is good news. Typically cases in District Court move much faster, as there is limited discovery and shorter timelines. Often times there are less formalities in District Court and this coupled with the shorter timeframe, often times mean the case expenses will be less than if a case was in Circuit Court. While it always depends on the particular facts of a given case, this amendment should be beneficial to clients. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a legal matter, please contact me at 251-709-8251.