Changing civil jurisdiction thresholds – Part 1

Most states have at least 2 levels of trial court, with a civil jurisdiction amount dividing them. For example a $1,000 civil case may be filed in the limited jurisdiction court, but a $100,000 case may only be permitted in the general jurisdiction court. Changes to this threshold can change the way courts are managed or function as caseloads and revenues rise/fall as a result. This series examines the existing thresholds and the legislative efforts to change them over the last decade. For a listing of all current civil jurisdiction thresholds, click here.

Alabama to Georgia below the fold.

Alabama

Since 1995 (HB 449) the state’s District Court has had concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Court in cases up to $10,000; cases over $10,000 went to Circuit Court (Code of Ala. § 12-11-30(1) & 12-12-30). In the last decade several bills have been introduced to increase the District Court’s jurisdiction to $20,000 (HB 248 of 2012), $25,000 (HB 116 of 2014; HB 147 & HB 201 of 2012), or even as high as $50,000 (SB 468 of 2010; SB 175 of 2005). Only SB 175 of 2005 advanced out of committee, and it died on the Senate floor.

Alaska

Since 2004 (HB 227) the state’s District Court has jurisdiction in civil cases up to $100,000 (Alaska Stat. § 22.15.030(a)). Since then there have been no efforts to change the provision.

Arizona

Arizona Justice of the Peace Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction of all civil actions when the amount involved is $10,000 or less (A.R.S. § 22-201(B)). A 2007 law (HB 2750) increased the threshold from the prior $5,000 to the current $10,000. HB 2472 and HB 2474 of 2007 were similar. In 2012 an effort was made to increase this to $25,000 (SB 1311 as introduced) or $15,000 (SB 1311 as amended).

Arkansas

Arkansas’ legislature in 2003 enacted a law (SB 462) to allow the Supreme Court to establish the civil jurisdictional threshold between Circuit and District Court (A.C.A. § 16-17-704).

California

California has a single tier trial court (Superior) and therefore no civil jurisdiction threshold with a lower court.

Colorado

Since 1990 Colorado County Courts have had concurrent original jurisdiction with the district court for cases up to $15,000 (C.R.S. 13-6-104). In the last decade there have been no efforts to change the provision.

Connecticut

Connecticut has only a single limited jurisdiction court (Probate) with no civil jurisdiction.

Delaware

Since 1994 (HB 527) the Court of Common Pleas has had jurisdiction over all civil actions at law where the matter or thing in controversy, exclusive of interest, does not exceed $50,000 (10 Del. C. § 1322(a)). In the last decade there have been no efforts to change the provision.

Florida

Since 1990 Florida County Courts have had jurisdiction in civil cases up to $15,000 (Fla. Stat. § 34.01(1)(c)). In the last decade there have been no efforts to change the provision.

Georgia

Georgia has several limited jurisdiction courts with civil jurisdiction.

  • Civil Court, which exists in only Richmond and Bibb Counties, has a threshold of either $25,000 (Bibb) or $45,000 (Richmond). In the last decade there have been no efforts to change these provisions.
  • State Court has unlimited civil jurisdiction except for cases in which exclusive jurisdiction is vested in the Superior Court (O.C.G.A. § 15-7-4(a)(2)). In the last decade there have been no efforts to change the provision.
  • Magistrate Court is effectively the state’s small claims court, with a jurisdiction of only $15,000. (O.C.G.A. § 15-10-2(5)). In 2010 an effort was made to increase the jurisdiction to $25,000 (HB 973). It was approved by the House Judiciary committee but proceeded no further.