This post is slightly delayed, but it is important nonetheless. Everyone should be aware of changes in State law, especially when those changes affect litigation.
On June 19, 2013, Governor Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 452 (“SB 452”), now Session Law 2013-159, which increases the jurisdictional amount in controversy for each division of the trial courts. What the amount in controversy means for litigants is that you have to file your claims with the proper court, based on how much money you are asking the court to award you.
North Carolina General Statutes Sections 7A-210 and 7A-243 dictate the proper court divisions in which to file civil claims based upon the amount in controversy. Before SB 452, the maximum amount in controversy for small claims actions was five thousand dollars ($5,000). The district court division was the proper division for claims ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or less, and the superior court division was the proper division for claims in excess of ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Session Law 2013-159 amends Sections 7A-210 and 7A-243 to change the proper court for cases filed after August 1, 2013, as follows:
1. Small claims actions now involve an amount in controversy not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000);
2. The district court division is now the proper division for claims in which the amount in controversy is twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) or less; and
3. The superior court division is now the proper division for claims in which the amount in controversy exceeds twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
Notwithstanding these changes, Plaintiffs may file claims worth between ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) in either district court or superior court until June 30, 2015.
So, what does this mean for YOU? Well, you now have more options in filing your lawsuit. For example, let’s say Bob is owed $8,000 on a contract that Fred has materially breached. Bob can now file his complaint in Small Claims Court.
The advantages to filing in Small Claims Court are numerous: (1) The fees are less expensive; (2) You can represent yourself, thereby avoiding attorneys’ fees: (3) Your hearing will be scheduled within 30 days of filing, which is much faster than District or Superior Court; and more.
Finally, I need to add a disclaimer that not all counties in North Carolina have adopted or will adopt these changes. Check with your local clerk of court for accurate amounts in controversy.
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