In the city of New York, the Civil Courts of New York City hear cases with expected damages of up to $25,000. Outside of New York City, District Courts hear cases with expected damages up to $15,000. If a case has expected damages in excess of the aforementioned amounts, the case will be heard in Superior Court. New York’s Superior Court is the court of general jurisdiction for civil matters involving monetary damages in excess of other courts’ monetary limits.
New York State Court System
- New York City Court: For cases arising in New York City, the New York City Civil Court hears cases with expected damages of up to $25,000.
- County Court: The County Courts have general jurisdiction outside of New York City, and handles civil cases with expected damages of up to $25,000.
- Supreme Court of New York: Unlike in other states, the Supreme Court of New York is the trial level court of general jurisdiction, and handles most civil cases.
- Supreme Court Appellate Division: Appeals from Supreme Court decisions are heard in the Appellate Division. This is the intermediary appellate level between the trial court and the top state court.
- New York Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state of New York. In most cases, they hear cases on appeal from the Appellate Division or the Court of Appeals.
*Some of the courts in the New York Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.
In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 20 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.
After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:
- Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:
- Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
- Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The New York State Unified Court System is committed to promoting the appropriate use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution as a means of peaceful dispute resolution.
Mediation is honored in New York as a reputable form of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation often improves communication and saves parties time and money. In mediation, a person called a mediator helps people in a dispute to communicate with one another, to understand each other, and if possible, to reach agreements that satisfy everyone’s needs. The mediator does not take sides or decide who was right or wrong in the past. The mediator helps people focus on the future and make their own decisions.
If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.
Motions and Appeals
The deadline for filing an appeal does not start to run unless the defendant has been served with a copy of the Order or Judgment with Notice of Entry. If that happens, the defendant only has 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal.
A judgment rendered in New York is valid for 10 years and may be extended once for a period of an additional 10 years.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in New York. Should you have a question/concern specific to New York law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New York.