SJC Announces New Procedural Amount Requirements
The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is the highest appelate court in Massachusetts. For many years it has declared that the Municipal Courts and District Courts in Massachusetts were only allowed to hear cases with values not exceeding $ 25,000.
It recently decided that for now on, the Municipal Courts and District Courts shall be allowed to hear cases with values not expected to exceed $ 50,000. The Superior Court in turn will now will have fewer cases to hear since it no longer will hear cases valued at less than $ 50,000. This will result in many more cases being filed in the District Courts and Municipal Courts, and likely will further clog these already busy courts. This will likely in turn lessen the number of cases that will be filed in the Superior Courts.
The Municipal and District Courts will now need more judges and jurors in order to handle the increased case flow.
Nearly all personal injury cases, including car accidents and slips and falls are filed in District Courts, Municipal Courts and Superior Courts. These courts also handle business disputes, and other litigation matters, but personal injury cases constitute a huge number of the cases filed in these courts. Time will tell on how this will all play out for the courts, litigants, and lawyers. This change will not impact workers’ compensation cases which are heard exclusively at the Department of Industrial Accidents. Nor will this change impact federal court cases.