Monday, March 7, 2016

Which Court Has Jurisdiction?

Over the years I’ve seen some interesting legal maneuvers by pro se (people representing themselves) parties in lawsuit. Last week, I spent a significant amount of time bouncing back and forth between state courts in New York and New Jersey on the same case because the other party thought his best option was to file applications in two states to try to get what he wanted.

As best I can tell, his theory was to see which court would give him the best result and then go with that action. But somehow, while doing that, he also brought multiple actions in the same state court, so we somehow had two separate lawsuits in New York and three in New Jersey – five lawsuits, all of which were based on the same sets of facts.

The judges in both states were also confronted with a variety of filing dates, in this order:
  • New Jersey Action 1
  • New York Action 1
  • New York Action 2
  • New Jersey Action 2
  • New Jersey Action 3

If the cases between the parties could have been removed to federal court, that would have at least led to a unified forum. But there’s not enough at issue to remove the cases to federal court, so we’re left to sort out the priorities in the state courts. But because the other party refuses to agree to one jurisdiction, I’ve had to file jurisdictional motions in both courts to try and sort out what is really going on.

The New Jersey judge even offered to have a conference call with the two New York judges assigned to the two New York actions to see if amongst them they could figure out what was going on, but that seems to be a logistical nightmare to administer.


The irony is, between all the actions, the judges may essential cancel each other out and all five actions may be dismissed and then we’ll have to start all over again.

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