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Understanding Civil Cases

Legal Reference

Maryland Rules of Procedure, Title 2, Civil Procedure – Circuit Court (Chapters 100-600) - for more details, visit the Maryland State Law Library.

What types of cases are civil cases?

Civil cases involve a disagreement between two private parties, which can be persons or companies. One party brings a lawsuit against the other party.

  • Administrative Appeals
  • Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource (ASTAR)
  • Auto Negligence
  • Business and Technology (B&T)
  • Breach of Contract
  • Confessed Judgment
  • Contract
  • District Court Appeals
  • District Court Jury Demands
  • Enrolling Judgments
  • Foreclosures
  • Foreign Decrees
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Miscellaneous Petitions to accomplish very specific acts
  • State Tax Liens

CIVIL DEPARTMENT
LOCATION:  North Tower, 3rd Floor, Rm 1250
HOURS:  Monday-Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm
PHONE: 240-777-9401
Civil-related forms may be found under the Forms page.

 

Not understanding all this terminology? Visit the glossary.

Things to Consider Before Starting a Civil Case

Jurisdiction

Before filing your case in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, you may want to make sure the Court has proper “jurisdiction” over the case, that is, confirm that this Court is allowed to hear your case. Consider the following five factors:

  1. If there is no case involving you and the other party filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court or any courts in other jurisdictions, start a new process by filing a complaint or petition in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
  2. If you or another party filed a case before in another court, and the case is still open, you may be required to file your current case/request in that County. However, there are circumstances that may allow a change of filing location. This is a situation that probably requires a lawyer's assistance.
  3. If you or another party filed a case before in Montgomery County Circuit Court, the case is still open, and you want to change the court orders for the current arrangement(s), you can file a complaint, petition, or motion in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
  4. If you filed a complaint or petition in Montgomery County Circuit Court but were not able to complete the process and the case is still open, file a motion in Montgomery County Circuit Court to reissue the Writ of Summons and serve the other party. However, if the Court dismissed the case, you must start a new case by filing a new complaint or petition.
  5. If the other party filed papers in Montgomery County Circuit Court but failed to complete the process, and you want to complete it, file a counterclaim if the case is still open in Montgomery County Circuit Court. However, if the Court dismissed the case, you must start a new case by filing a new complaint or petition.
Other considerations about filing a civil case in Circuit Court:
  1. When it comes to filing civil cases in Maryland, the District Court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil matters of claims involving $5,000 or less. Claims involving amounts between $5,000-$25,000 may be filed in Circuit Court and in District Court. The Circuit Court has jurisdiction of claims involving amounts in excess of $25,000 except in Landlord-Tenant matters or in replevin. For more information on filing civil claims in the District Court, see the Maryland Attorney General's small claims publication (PDF).
  2. Anyone over the age of 18 can initiate a civil filing.
  3. Consider whether your case should go to court. Taking a case to court can be an expensive way of solving your problem. If you sue and lose, the Court may order you to pay the costs of the other parties, which could be significant. Moreover, there are several ways to settle your case without going to court, including mediation, arbitration, and negotiation between lawyers involved in the dispute. Finally, consider the cost of taking a case to court as opposed to the cost of each alternative approach. For more information about possible ways to settle the dispute out of court and reduce costs, consult your attorney.
  4. If you have a complaint about a product and/or services that you purchased, or any other consumer-related complaints, including problems related to health care and financial matters, first contact the Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 888-743-0023 or the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636.
  5. Consider whether a particular court has power over the person being sued, that is, whether it is fair to sue a person in that court. To determine the existence of personal jurisdiction, the Court will examine the defendant’s contact with and activities in the state in which the lawsuit is filed. While it is relatively easy to determine that a defendant is subject to the power of all courts sitting in the state where he/she is a resident or has substantial contact, it is much harder to answer the question in the case of non-resident defendants.
  6. When a defendant has sufficient contacts in multiple states, and thus is subject to personal jurisdiction in many state and federal courts, these courts may have the power to hear a case involving the defendant. In a situation where multiple venues are available, one must decide the right court in which the lawsuit may be filed based on the existing state and federal venue rules.
  7. In Maryland, parties must file most cases within 3 years of the time when it was first possible to file. If you are making an old claim, the Court may dismiss your case by “statute of limitations.” If you are uncertain, consult your attorney.

*Other requirements, such as residency, may also apply.

Differentiated Case Management (DCM) Guidelines for Civil Cases

DCM is characterized by the early differentiation of cases entering the justice system in terms of the nature and extent of judicial/justice system resources they will require. Each case is assigned to the appropriate case track that allows for the performance of pretrial tasks and allocates the appropriate level of judicial and other system resources, minimizing processing delays. Established mechanisms avoid multiple court appearances and assure the timely provision of resources for the expeditious processing and resolution of cases on each track.

There are 8 tracks in civil cases. Tracks are numeric categories assigned to each case that drive how dates are scheduled and time standards are met.

For more information, visit the What are DCM Tracks? page.

Download the Civil DCM Plan, revised April 2017 (PDF)

UPDATE

Replacement of Civil Track III Scheduling Conferences Starting July 2017

Beginning in July of 2017 the Circuit Court will no longer conduct a Scheduling Conference in a Track III - Civil Case. In lieu of a Civil Track III- Scheduling Conference, which is now held approximately 90 days from filing, the parties will be issued a Civil Track III -Scheduling Packet, at the time of filing.

The Civil Track III -Scheduling Packet, will contain a Scheduling Notice and Order of Court, Track III -Scheduling Order, and an Order for a Mandatory Settlement Conference/Pretrial Hearing. These Scheduling Packets will be generated in the Clerk’s Office and mailed to each party. In addition, Track III- Civil Cases will automatically be referred to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) approximately 90 days from filing. (Parties may object to participating in ADR by filing an objection pursuant to Maryland Rule 17-202 (f), within thirty days of the entry of the ADR order.)

In addition to a reduction in our dockets, the elimination of the Track III –Scheduling Conference Docket will result in fewer court appearances, decreased litigation costs, and a reduction in staff hours spent retrieving files and processing postponements.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please feel free to contact Rick Dabbs, DCM Coordinator at 240-777-9358.

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