People or businesses seeking to collect money in New Jersey can file a suit in the Superior Court to obtain a judgment. An experienced New Jersey litigation attorney should be consulted before suing, however,because there are many factors that should be considered. For example, a decision needs to be made about which division of the court to file in and what county the suit can and should be filed in. In addition, the suing party must decide which parties should be named as defendants. Finally the suing party must also decide the type of relief sought and properly request it (i.e., compensatory, attorneys’ fees, prejudgment interest, etc.)
A lawsuit is started with the filing of a complaint. A complaint is the legal document that sets forth the facts and legal reasons why the suing party should recover the requested relief. Complaints must correctly identify the parties being sued. The party filing suit, otherwise known as the plaintiff, is legally responsible to accurately and properly name the correct defendants. Failure to properly name a defendant can later preclude post-judgment collection efforts. Failure to include all responsible parties in one suit can later preclude collecting from parties that were not initially named.
After deciding which parties to name, the plaintiff should decide which county the suit should be brought in. New Jersey Court Rules require a complaint to be filed in the county where the cause of action arose or the county in which any party to the action resides. Corporations are considered to reside in any county in which the corporation either does business or its registered office is located. A plaintiff can hire private investigators to perform a search to identify the address where a potential defendant resides; a good lawyer can often do this also. A plaintiff can also search the New Jersey Department of the Treasury website to determine where a corporation is registered or does business. It is critical to file the complaint in the proper county. Failing to file to file the complaint in the proper county can lead to a dismissal of the lawsuit.
After picking the county in which suit will be filed, the moving party must decide which division of the court to file in. If a matter involves an amount in controversy of $15,000 or less than it may be brought in the Special Civil Division of the Superior Court. If the amount in controversy is greater than $15,000 then it must be brought in the Law Division because Special Civil Part monetary recovery is capped at $15,000, exclusive of court costs and attorneys fee (if allowed by law). There are advantages to filing suit in either the Law Division or the Special Civil Part.
Filing an action in the Law Division is appropriate if the case is complex and will require critical discovery without which the plaintiff will not be able to succeed. In addition, filing in the Law Division is beneficial when discovery is needed to ascertain the identities of all responsible parties. That is the plaintiff may know the identities and whereabouts of some, but not all the parties and needs time to determine what other parties should be named.
Filing in the Special Civil Part also has many advantages. For example, the filing fee in the Special Civil Part is considerably lower. The time period for contested cases to reach trial is shorter. A case is contested when a defendant files an answer. The rules pertaining to discovery are streamlined and shortened, giving the parties ninety days to complete discovery and take the case to trial. Judgment execution procedures are typically more effective because court officers are paid on a commission basis from monies collected. Officers receive ten percent of the first five thousand dollars collected and five percent of any amount collected in excess of five thousand dollars. These commissions are taxed costs which are required to be paid by the debtor. Officers therefore have a great deal of incentive in the handling of the execution process. However, judgments are capped at $15,000 plus court costs and attorneys fees if the law allows. On the other hand, officers who execute Law Division judgments only receive a nominal fee for mileage and therefore do not have the same monetary incentive.
If you are considering filing a suit in New Jersey, McLaughlin & Nardi’s attorneys are here to help. Our experienced and skilled lawyers will work to preserve your claims, ensure you are paid for your outstanding bills. To learn more about what we can do to help, please visit our website, e-mail us, or call our lawyers at (973)890-0004.