In 2015, the Nevada Legislature raised Nevada Justice Courts’ Jurisdictional limit from $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 effective on January 1, 2017. This statute requires any cases filed until December 31, 2016 seeking damages up to $10,000.00 should be filed in Justice Court. The Statute, as amended, will require that any cases filed on or after January 1, 2017 seeking damages up to $15,000.00 should be filed in Justice Court.
An issue this brings up is when should a case seeking damages between $10,000.00 and $15,000.00 be filed? Attorneys and their clients should analyze which Court will give them better advantages to determine if they should file before or after the January 1, 2017 if they fall within this range of damages and the decision will not be effected by the relevant Statute of Limitations.
NRS 4.370(a) governs Justice Courts’ Jurisdictional limits. For cases filed until December 31, 2016, it states:
For cases filed on or after January 1, 2017, it states:
It all seems plain and simple until you look to a Rule which governs Pleadings in Nevada. One of the statements in Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure requires Complaints filed in Nevada District Courts to aver Jurisdiction in that Court. Specifically, the NRCP 8(a) states:
Where a claimant seeks damages of more than $10,000, the demand shall be for damages “in excess of $10,000” without further specification of amount.
This rule requires the Plaintiff to allege the Jurisdictional basis for a case being heard by the District Court while forbidding her from alleging a specific amount of damages in excess of the Jurisdictional limit for Justice Courts. A District Court Judge could dismiss a Complaint or require a Plaintiff to amend her Complaint if she alleges a specific amount in excess of $10,000.00
I have checked the Nevada Supreme Court’s website and do not see any changes, or proposed changes to NRCP 8(a) that would amend the required Jurisdictional Statement to comport with the new Jurisdictional limit of Juste Courts. Crafty counsel could take advantage of this inconsistency.
If a Plaintiff drafts her Complaint to comply with NRCP 8(a), Defense Counsel could file a Motion to Transfer Jurisdiction to Justice Court pursuant to NRS 3.221 since the claim for damages will be “in excess of $10,000.00 which falls within the Justice Courts’ Jurisdiction. This may turn out unsuccessful and a waste of the Court’s time, but some attorneys and their clients won’t have a problem doing so.
On the other hand, if the Plaintiff files her Complaint stating that the case has a value in excess of $15,000.00 to demonstrate that the District Court has Jurisdiction, Defense Counsel can file a Motion to Dismiss citing a violation of NRCP8(a) as currently written.
While I have not see it yet, I am sure that the Nevada Supreme Court Justices will resolve this inconsistency to prevent gamesmanship by Counsel and their clients from taking advantage of a technicality and wasting valuable Court time and resources.