Birth Injury Lawsuits in Federal Court

Federal Court Ohio LogoThere are two types of courts where birth injury cases can be filed:  state court and federal court.  In some cases the litigants may not have a choice, but in others they may have multiple options.

Each state has at least one United States District Court.  Some states have multiple federal courthouses, and these are sometimes grouped into districts.

Characteristics of The Federal Courts

Judges in the federal court system are appointed for life by the President of the United States, though they must be confirmed by the Senate.  Their salaries are uniform—in 2013, federal district court judges earned $174,000.00 per year.  Other judges, called magistrate judges, are tasked with assisting the federal judges.  They are appointed by the federal district judges.  They have specific duties that often include resolving discovery disputes.  Magistrate judges can typically be authorized to preside over trials with the permission of the parties.

All federal courts rely on a system of electronic filing.  Unless the case is of a particularly sensitive nature, the pleadings and court documents are available to the public online through the CM/ECF system.  Members of the public can view documents through PACER by simply knowing the case number.  Lawyers and litigants representing themselves can also file documents electronically.  This system is very convenient and efficient.  Some state courts, by comparison, require lawyers to file documents by hand or by mail, and review of a case’s docket can only be performed in person at the courthouse.

Jurors are typically selected from voter’s lists and motor vehicle records.

Rules:  All of the federal courts are governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  These rules govern everything from how to calculate deadlines, file complaints, serve subpoenas to post-trial motions and appeals.  Additionally, the individual courts each have local rules that discuss the preferences of that court.  This can usually be found on the court’s website, and often includes things like the time allowed for opening and closing arguments, and how to handle jury instructions.

Can My Case Be Filed In Federal Court?

There are several ways to get into federal court.  When birth injury cases are filed there, it is typically when there is something called diversity of jurisdiction.  That means the plaintiff (the injured party who files the lawsuit) lives in a different state from each of the defendants (the people or corporations being sued).  Diversity is determined at the moment the lawsuit is filed (not when the injury or negligence occurred).  The other requirement is that the case must be filed for more than $75,000.00.

Your lawyer will probably decide whether your case is best filed in state or federal court.  There are pros and cons to each that must be weighed, include the common attitudes of jurors, the difficulty of civil procedure rules, the expense, and the time to get trial.

Contact Us

Our lawyers have experience in state courts and federal courts around the country.  If you believe your child was injured because of medical malpractice, please contact us at (888)-452-4912, or send us a message through our website.  We can help you to find the answers you need.

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