As a business owner, partner, or shareholder, complex disputes may arise that require efficient legal resolution. Choosing the right court to file suit can be more complex than one might initially think, especially in cases involving breach of fiduciary duty claims. A recent case from the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Bare v. Al. Ringling Brewing Co., Inc., 21-CV-642-JDP, 2022 WL 2315594 (W.D. Wis. June 28, 2022), demonstrates that complex issues of federal court jurisdiction may preclude bringing certain claims in federal court, even though that may be a more appealing jurisdiction than state court.
First, it is important to understand the choice you may face in deciding which venue to pursue a potential claim. In cases where there are multiple claims or causes of action, a plaintiff may have the option to file suit in federal court. Federal jurisdiction typically arises when the case involves a federal question, such as a claim arising under federal law, or when there is diversity jurisdiction – meaning that the parties are residents of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. However, when there are also state law claims that arise from the same set of facts, the plaintiff must consider whether to litigate these claims in state court or to consolidate them with the federal claims.
One advantage of bringing all claims, both federal and state, in federal court is the possibility of greater efficiency in the litigation process. This is because federal courts often have more resources and can handle cases more quickly than their state court counterparts. Additionally, federal court judges tend to have more experience dealing with complex legal issues, which may be particularly beneficial in cases that involve intricate federal questions. Consolidating claims in federal court also allows for the resolution of all claims in a single forum, which can save time and resources for all parties involved.
On the other hand, there are potential disadvantages to bringing state law claims in federal court. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, meaning that they can only hear certain types of cases. If a federal court decides it does not have jurisdiction over the state law claims, the plaintiff may have to litigate these claims in state court, essentially splitting the case into two separate lawsuits. This can be both time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, federal courts will apply state law to state law claims, and there is a risk that a federal court may misinterpret or misapply the relevant state law, leading to an unfavorable outcome for the plaintiff. Continue reading ›