Due to rules governing subject-matter jurisdiction, plaintiffs often don’t have a choice between filing their lawsuit in Virginia state court or federal court. Federal courts possess exclusive jurisdiction over certain types of claims and often lack jurisdiction to hear cases involving claims arising under state law. In many situations, though, plaintiffs have the option to pursue their claims in either state court or federal court. Neither forum is necessarily more advantageous than the other. To help prospective litigants weigh the pros and cons of state court vs. federal court, I’ve summarized some of the key differences below.
1. For fast-paced litigation, choose federal court.
The Eastern District of Virginia is known around the country as the “Rocket Docket” due to how quickly the proceedings move. The average Rocket Docket case is scheduled for trial just 8-10 months after the filing of the complaint. By comparison, trials in Fairfax Circuit Court typically are scheduled close to a year after filing. Litigants in federal court may only have 90 days in which to complete discovery, something unheard of in state court. Continuances are rarely granted in either court, but are even more difficult to get in federal court, where you should just assume the trial date is carved in stone. Basically, if you file your lawsuit in federal court, at least up here in Northern Virginia, expect a whirlwind of litigation from beginning to end. This may be overwhelming to some, but desirable to others. Continue reading