Civil disputes involving amounts in controversy less than $25,000.00 are typically filed in the District Court division of the civil courts in North Carolina. Every judicial district in the state has a District Court Division and a Superior Court Division.
Often, business litigants will choose to take their cases into the District Court Division because cases can work through the process and get to trial quicker and be less expensive to litigate than in the higher level Superior Court Division.
Also, even though the jurisdictional amount for the District Court Division is defined as between $10,000.00 and $25,000.00, judges and juries in a District Court trial are not limited to these amounts and can render verdicts of whatever amount the evidence proves.
As a result, business owners often decide to litigate in District Court. The law in North Carolina requires that corporations and limited liability companies must have attorneys when involved in civil litigation.
Neither the shareholders of the corporation, nor the members of the limited liability company, can represent themselves in court or “speak” for the company in a court proceeding. Unfortunately, some business owners don’t realize this until they find themselves in the courtroom and learn this fact from the presiding judge.
Another route by which business owners find themselves in District Court is when there has been an appeal from a small claims court ruling. In small claims court (also known as magistrate court) either party can decide to appeal the magistrate judge’s ruling for a new trial at the District Court level.
The services of an experienced civil litigation attorney are vital to the business owner in this circumstance. The business litigant can expect to face an arbitration hearing, and then possibly, trial before a judge or jury.
Business litigations in the District Court level run the gamut from collections, to contract, partnership and shareholder disputes to controversies over the interpretation of a limited liability operating agreements, just to name a few. Taking the business law case to trial in the District Court Division can be the better option in many instances.