Thomas McCutcheon

On April 12, 2019 the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals decided a case involving lawsuits in District Court.

District Court has a limit of $10,000. If the value of the case is $10,000 or less, District Court may well work. Should you lose and appeal to Circuit Court you are still limited to $10,000 in most cases. If the defendant files a counterclaim for more than $10,000, the original $10,000 cap is off. The rules regarding these limits and how they apply must be considered when bringing or appealing a case from District Court. “All appeals from final judgments of the District Court shall be to the Circuit Court for trial de novo”. “De Novo” means anew, afresh, a second time, a new trial.

Remember that the court system tries to be efficient and that means that if “A” sues “B” and “B” has a related claim against “A”, they almost always must file it in the same suit.

For example, if “A” sues “B” for doing work that “A” claims isn’t of good quality, and “B” didn’t get paid for that same work “B” must file in the same case for payment. The courts can and will hear these claims in the same case. The claim for payment would probably be lost if not brought as a counterclaim. However, “District Court Rule 13 applies in the District Court except that, (1) Rule 13(a) is modified so as to excuse the pleader from asserting a compulsory counterclaim when the claim is beyond the jurisdiction of the District Court”. What that means is that if your counterclaim is for more than $10,000, you don’t have to bring it in District Court or lose it. You can bring it later in Circuit Court, although you probably should talk to a lawyer at that point.

If you do appear in court, have the evidence in court and make copies. The Court won’t take your cell phone into evidence to later look at the pictures on your cell phone. So, if you want the pictures on your phone entered into evidence, print them out and make copies for the Court.

Buckle up, drive safely and as always your referrals are appreciated!  256-764-0112

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