The United States court system is actually divided into two systems: state courts and federal courts. State courts are established by the laws of each state and have broad jurisdiction. In contrast, federal district courts are established under the U.S. Constitution and have a much narrower jurisdiction. Federal civil lawsuits come with a strict set of rules and often involve considerable sums of money. If you are involved in federal civil litigation in Colorado, your first step should be hiring a Colorado federal district court attorney.
Talk to a Colorado Federal District Court Attorney
Federal district judges are presidential appointees who serve life terms. These officials wield a considerable amount of power, and they do not take this power lightly. Consequently, federal civil complaints are subject to a heightened sense of scrutiny. You need a battle-tested attorney who knows the federal district court system inside and out.
The Colorado federal district court attorneys at Robinson & Henry, P.C. have extensive litigation experience at the federal level and can help you determine your best course of action. Call 303-688-0944 today to begin your free case assessment.
Colorado Federal District Court
The United States District Court for the District of Colorado is the sole federal judicial district in Colorado. The Colorado federal district court is based out of Denver at the Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse. It also has a second courthouse in Denver and courts in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, and Durango.
Federal Court Jurisdiction
Federal courts have limited jurisdiction. A Colorado federal court can only hear cases:
- with a claim under the United States Constitution
- where the United States is a party
- brought under federal law
- where the parties reside in different states, and the value of the alleged damages is more than $75,000
If your case is based on any federal law, a Colorado federal district court will have subject matter jurisdiction. For example, maybe you own a small business in Denver. Your company’s growth is being stifled by a large corporation that you believe is engaging in unfair business practices. Federal antitrust laws regulate the conduct and structure of business organizations. Therefore, federal court is the proper venue to litigate your case.
Diversity of Citizenship
Federal district courts have diversity jurisdiction over civil matters where:
(1) the dispute is between citizens of different states, and
(2) at least $75,000 in monetary damages are at stake. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)
Colorado federal courts have jurisdiction “only where there is complete diversity — meaning that all plaintiffs must be of different citizenship than of all defendants.” Procom Supply, LLC v. Langner (D. Colo. Oct. 11, 2012)
The 2021 case Budnella v. USAA Gen. Idemnity Co., is a good example of complete diversity. Let’s take a look.
Budnella v. USAA
A Colorado Springs man racked up a hefty medical bill after he was seriously injured in a 2017 car crash. He filed a claim with his insurance provider, USAA General Indemnity Co., requesting payment of those bills. The provider denied his claim. He then sued the company in Colorado state district court. In his state claim, the defendant requested monetary damages of no more than $100,000.
USAA General Indemnity Co. responded by filing a motion to transfer the case to Colorado’s federal district court. The providers argued that complete diversity of jurisdiction existed in this case because the company was registered in Texas, but the accident had happened in Colorado. Additionally, all claimed damages combined amounted to more than $75,000, which the defendants believed necessitated federal jurisdiction.
Despite the plaintiff’s objection, the Colorado state court turned the case over to federal district court:
Therefore, because the undisputed evidence shows that Plaintiff is a citizen of Colorado, and that Defendant is a citizen of Texas, complete diversity exists between the parties.
Budnella v. USAA Gen. Indemnity Co. (D. Colo. June 1, 2020)
Why You Should Hire a Colorado Federal District Court Attorney
It is technically possible to file a federal district court lawsuit without a lawyer. However, the Court will hold you to the same standards as it would a seasoned Colorado federal district court attorney.
“If you represent yourself, you are deemed to be having the same knowledge and education as an attorney would,” said R&H Litigation Attorney Joe Lico, who has successfully litigated state and federal district court cases courts in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah. “And you may have zero law education.”
Federal district court lawsuits undergo a screening process before ever reaching a judge, Joe said. This is so the court can ensure proper allegations have been made.
“They will have a review if there are cases filed without an attorney involved,” Joe said. “They don’t want to be trying to figure out what’s going on and people not showing up.”
The court may decide that your initial claim is not true, or that it was frivolous (a waste of time). In these cases, the court can order you to pay a fine and the legal fees of the people you sued.
We Know the Rules
Once you initiate a federal district civil lawsuit, you must keep up with all the deadlines and follow all the rules. This includes:
- filing and serving all required papers
- following the judge’s orders
- responding to the papers filed by the other party/parties.
If you miss deadlines or do not follow the rules, your case could be hurt or even dismissed. Worse, you could be on the hook for the other party’s legal fees.
Our Federal District Court Litigators
Attorney Steve Whitmore
Traditionally, federal district courts are much stricter in the enforcement of rules and processes than Colorado state courts, said Stephen Whitmore, head of R&H’s Civil Litigation Practice.
“In my experience, federal courts are a lot more likely to dismiss cases and affirmative defenses than state courts,” Steve said. “The federal courts tend to put people on a stricter leash.”
In federal district court cases, it is absolutely vital to have an attorney who knows how the federal civil litigation process differs from the state court process, Steve said.
“It’s important that you’ve got somebody who knows what to expect and can analyze the strength of a claim and determine if it’s going to be viable,” he said.
Each Judge Has Different Rules
To succeed in a federal civil lawsuit, you’ll need a federal district attorney who is familiar with not only the procedures but the judges as well.
Steve has more than 28 years of litigation experience. He has successfully litigated hundreds of cases in Colorado’s state, federal, and administrative courts during that time. So he knows firsthand that courtroom rules may vary depending on the judge.
“Many judges have their own set of rules in their specific division,” Steve said. “So knowing how to navigate each individual judge’s specific wants and desires is important.”
Attorney Chris Maciejewski
R&H Civil Litigation Attorney Chris Maciejewski bring 25 years of representing clients in federal, state, and administrative courts. His extensive experience includes representation of civil litigants in disputes involving contracts, commercial landlord and tenant matters, real estate, insurance, employment law, and many other areas of business law.
“I got interested in civil litigation because I like helping people solve problems,” Chris said. “Civil litigation encompasses most of the types of disputes in people’s everyday lives.”
In addition to helping people, Chris also has a competitive streak. This is a particularly valuable asset in federal district court cases, as the stakes are often higher than in other kinds of cases. Chris enjoys that “back-and-forth,” as he puts it.
Attorney Joe Novak
Attorney Joe Novak helps clients with business, civil, and real estate disputes. At the federal court level, he has tried cases in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Montana; U.S. District Court, District of Colorado; and U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. Joe also has argued before the Colorado Court of Appeals.
“Litigation is naturally a very stressful and costly endeavor,” Joe said. “So it feels good when I can bring my client to an end result that they’re satisfied with, and that they can move on with their life and no longer have to deal with these problems that have been plaguing them.”
Joe approaches federal civil litigation with an eye towards trial, as he knows this is often the quickest and most efficient way to achieve the desired outcome for his clients.
Attorney Sonia Zaheer
Sonia Zaheer previously served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the U.S. Trustee, in Portland, Oregon. There, she prosecuted incidents of fraud, white-collar crime, and other misconduct in bankruptcy cases. Sonia handled all aspects of prosecution, including pre-litigation settlement negotiations and bench trials in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon.
Talk to a Colorado Federal District Court Attorney
The Colorado federal district court attorneys at Robinson & Henry have collectively litigated hundreds of cases and have over a combined 100 years of experience. We will fight tirelessly every step of the way, from filing your formal complaint or response to arguing on your behalf in Colorado’s highest courts. Call 303-688-044 today to begin your free case assessment.