Skip to main content

When Should a Case be Tried in Federal Court?

The question of whether a case should be tried in federal or state court is a question of jurisdiction. This is a legal term that refers to the court’s authority to decide the case. In some situations, the state court where the parties are from will have full jurisdiction over the matter. In other cases, federal court will be the only option available.

For Texas residents and businesses operating in Texas, the vast majority of cases will be filed and resolved through the Texas court system. However, there are two situations in which your case will need to be filed and litigated in the federal court system:

1. Cases that arise under federal law: Examples of cases that arise under federal law could include (1) an issue relating to patent infringement, (2) anti-competitive and unfair business practices that violate antitrust laws, (3) violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, (4) violations of civil rights laws, and (5) many other issues.

2. Cases with diverse citizenship that exceed a specific threshold: The citizenship of the parties in a lawsuit relates to where the parties are from. If multiple parties in the legal issue are from different U.S. states or from different foreign countries, and there is more than $75,000 in dispute, then the case will be handled in federal court.

Do you have a case that needs to be tried in federal court? The laws and procedures that apply to federal court matters will be different from lawsuits that proceed in state court. As such, individual parties and businesses who need to pursue a case in federal court will want to apprise themselves of the federal rules and laws that apply to their specific legal dilemma.

Source: FindLaw, “Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts,” accessed Nov. 30, 2017