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A civil suit begins when one party, the plaintiff, files a complaint against another party, the defendant. A suit can be brought by any number of plaintiffs against any number of defendants or as a single plaintiff versus a single defendant.
Some common civil claims are personal injury, premise liability, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, violations of civil rights, and employment discrimination. Most times these claims are brought in state court. However, claims arising under federal law or those where the parties are diverse and the claim exceeds $75,000 can be brought in federal court.
The statute of limitations determines how long a plaintiff has to bring a claim. Certain claims, such as those involving employment discrimination require that the complainant exhaust certain administrative remedies prior to filing a lawsuit. Attorney Dutko can guide you through the process in order to protect a viable claim.
Similarly, if you have been served with a complaint, your time is limited to file and answer. Failure to file a timely answer allows the complaint to seek a default judgment against you. You need to act quickly to protect your interests.
Claims involving personal injury, premise liability, and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress are commonly referred to as “Torts.” Torts are most often brought in the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the cause of action arose, i.e. the county where the vehicle accident occurred.
Contract claims, i.e. breach of contract or unjust enrichment, are derived from either an oral or written contract or based under principle of quasi-contract. Unjust enrichment is based on fairness where one party confers a benefit on another with receiving reasonable compensation.
Many people assume they have a wrongful termination claim when they are terminated from a job. The reality is, for most people, being terminated does not raise a cognizable claim. Pennsylvania is what is referred to as an “at-will” employment state. This means that an employer or an employee may terminate the employment relationship without cause and without notice. However, a claim can be brought where an employee’s termination is against the public interest, i.e. fired for attending jury duty or where an employment contract has been formed.
Claims arising under federal law or those in which the parties are diverse and the claim exceeds $75,000 can be brought in federal court. Attorney Dutko is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This court’s jurisdiction includes Berks, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties.
Claims arising under federal law include employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), or Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and those involving violations of civil rights, known as “1983 claims.”
To learn more about Title VII claims click here. To learn about ADA claims click here. To learn more about Age Discrimination claims click here.
Section 1983 claims often arise where a person acting under color of law deprives another of the rights and privileges guaranteed under federal law or the U.S. Constitution. These claims most often involve situations where a person with a badge of authority (police officer) violates another’s constitutional rights (unlawful arrest). As a former police officer, Attorney Dutko possesses the knowledge, training, and experience to determine when a police officer, deputy sheriff, or corrections officer has gone too far and violated and individuals’ rights.
In order to bring a claim, a plaintiff must have suffered damages. Damages can include medical or psychiatric expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, or damage to one’s reputation. If another person has caused a financial or emotional loss, you may have reason to bring a civil claim.
Hiring a skilled civil litigator is the first step to a successful outcome. While most cases are settle before trial; a settlement is result of thorough preparation. Attorney Dutko believes that thorough preparation during the discovery stage is the catalyst for a reasonable settlement. This approach increases the chance of a quick resolution. However, where a settlement is not possible, you will need an experienced trial attorney to reach a jury and explain why you should be awarded damages.