Without jurisdiction over both the subject matter of the case and the defendant(s), a court may not proceed. The New Jersey Constitution gives the Superior Court subject matter jurisdiction over virtually all types of cases. N.J. Const., Art. VI 3, 2; see Chapter I. In general, the Law Division of Superior Court has subject matter jurisdiction over cases that involve primarily a claim for monetary damages, while the Chancery Division has jurisdiction over cases that entail primarily claims for non-monetary relief such as specific performance, an injunction, or other equitable relief. See R. 4:3-1(a). The Special Civil Part has jurisdiction over cases in which damages do not exceed $10,000. R. 6:1-2(a) (1).
In cases involving claims under a federal statute or the United States Constitution, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey has subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. 1331. Additionally, the District Court for the District of New Jersey has jurisdiction where the plaintiff(s) are all from a different state than all defendant(s) and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. 1332. Sometimes either the federal court or the state courts may have subject matter jurisdiction. Though federal litigation is beyond the scope of this book, you need to consider carefully whether to choose federal rather than state court as the place to file this case. Two indispensable resources for federal litigation practice are Gann Law Books’ annotated New Jersey Federal Practice Rules, written by Allyn Z. Lite, and New Jersey Law Journal Books’ New Jersey Federal Civil Procedure, edited by Robert E. Bartkus.
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