“FORUM SHOPPING” II
PICKING THE COURT THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU: CHOICE OF “VENUE”
As we have seen, with respect to situations where state law may differ from federal law, and both state and federal jurisdiction exists, the fact situation of the case may determine the most advantageous court in which to bring your lawsuit. There are, however, several other factors that will be considered by the experienced litigator, particularly in personal injury cases, in deciding which court to file your lawsuit, presuming a choice exists.
Time limits that restrict, or even eliminate, your pursuit of an action in state court may well be viable in Federal court.
This could also hold true should you have a choice of bringing an action in the courts of different states–the Statute of Limitations in one state could well differ from that of another state.
With respect to cases brought in New York City, it is well recognized that, almost invariably, a lawsuit filed in the Federal Courts (again, presuming jurisdiction exists) will reach its conclusion well before a lawsuit, based on exactly the same incident, would reach its conclusion in State court. If time may be an important factor, such as the presence of an elderly or ill client or witness, this could become decisive.
More amorphous or subtle considerations are apt to enter the picture as well. Discovery rules differ in Federal and State courts, and if certain discovery is crucial to a case, the experienced attorney will factor that issue into the choice of “venue”.
And choice of courts is not only limited to one state vs. another state’s courts or State vs. Federal court. It may well come down to as simple a choice as to which county within one state (again presuming a choice exists) one should file the lawsuit. Here, again, the length of time to bring a lawsuit to conclusion can differ significantly between counties. And, though attorneys may be somewhat loathe to admit this fact, “common knowledge” among the profession has it that certain counties may have juries that are more favorably disposed towards plaintiffs than other counties–while others are more favorably disposed towards defendants.
The practice of law, and in particular it’s applicability to the field of Personal Injury Law, is highly technical. It is filled with issues that require not only “book knowledge” but also the need to “sense” factors that can only come with experience. As this topic of “FORUM SHOPPING” clearly demonstrates, some factors that would never appear on the client’s “radar screen” could well make a dramatic difference in the outcome of that client’s case, even before the client is aware that a case has begun !!