General Litigation Practice
The litigation practice is limited to specific types of cases. We do not accept criminal or personal injury cases for example. The litigation practice does cover virtually all business and individual suits.
Following is a sample of the types of client cases we have managed in the last few years:
- commercial contract disputes
- real estate controversies
- insolvency and bankruptcy
- legal malpractice
- corporate and partnership dissolutions
- SLAPP and Anti-SLAPP
- writs and appeals
INTRODUCTION TO LITIGATION
WHICH IS THE PROPER COURT?
In California, the proper COURT is determined by the total amount of damages you are claiming in your suit. There are only two California state courts: the Small Claims court and the Superior Court. If the total amount to be claimed is $7,500 or less, then Small Claims court is available to you. If more, you must file in the Superior Court. If your total claim is $25,000 or less, your Superior Court case is designated as a "Limited Civil Case"; if your total claim exceeds $25,000, your Superior Court case is designated as an "Unlimited Civil Case" with no dollar limit as to the amount which you may claim or be awarded.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
If yours is a Small Claims case, you cannot be represented by a lawyer when in court. You may certainly discuss your case with a lawyer but your lawyer cannot speak on your behalf before the judge. You, the plaintiff, must present your case to the judge in person.
Something to think about: if your claim exceeds the Small Claims limit by not too much, you should consider reducing your claim to $7,500 and representing yourself. Legal fees could easily take several thousand dollars. Talk to your lawyer before making the decision, but do think about it.
THE SUPERIOR COURT
When represented by a lawyer you are in the Superior Court of California. Superior Court cases are what lawyers mean when they talk of "civil litigation". Every case in a California court which is not a small claims case or a Federal Court case, such as bankruptcy, is heard in the Superior Court. Whether the heart of the matter is breach of contract, personal injury, divorce, civil rights, a criminal offense or whatever else you can think of, it is in the Superior Court.
LIMITED vs UNLIMITED CIVIL CASE
In addition to the dollar limitation - more or less than $25,000 - there is another major difference between a limited and unlimited case. There is a limitation not only in dollars but also in discovery. (Discovery refers to demands for documents to be produced, written questions demanding written answers and the deposing of parties and witnesses.) Limited cases may have but one deposition per side and not more than 35 demands for documents, answers to questions et al in the aggregate. Unlimited civil cases are essentially unlimited as to any form of discovery.