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.