1. Preparing a Federal Court Complaint
2. Filing a Breach of Contract Complaint in Federal Court
3. Difference Between Arbitration and Mediation
4. Breach of Contract Elements

A breach of contract complaint federal court venue is appropriate under certain conditions. Filing your complaint in federal court is appropriate when the parties involved in the dispute are from different states or countries or the claim exceeds $75,000.

Most complaints filed in federal court can also be filed in the applicable state court. Filing in state court is often easier, less expensive, and likely to resolve sooner than a federal court action.

Preparing a Federal Court Complaint

Filing a complaint in federal court is time-consuming and complex, so you need an experienced attorney. In addition, determining diversity of citizenship can be complicated since a corporation can be a citizen of multiple states.

Have your attorney draft the complaint. This process is the same as in state court. The complaint needs to outline the facts of the case, terms of the contract, what deliverables were performed, and what led to the breach. It's helpful to review examples of federal court complaints to ensure that yours follows the proper format.

Although the case is in federal court, contract law falls under state law. Therefore, your complaint needs to address the applicable state laws and how they relate to your specific case. Be sure to address the statute of limitations and ensure your complaint was filed prior to the expiration.

Filing a Breach of Contract Complaint in Federal Court

  • File and pay your filing fee, which is currently $400 for a federal district court. You can apply to have the filing fee waived if you cannot afford it.
  • Serve the other side using a process server who will give them documentation containing notice of the lawsuit and when their appearance is required in court.
  • Determine whether the contract stipulates that arbitration or mediation is required. Many contracts have alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clauses where you'll need to select an arbitrator or mediator. Verify whether the contract calls for one with special qualifications or memberships.

Difference Between Arbitration and Mediation

Mediation tends to be less formal than arbitration and is a more collaborative process. Arbitration has more formal rules that resemble the courtroom and the decision can be binding or non-binding depending on the agreement. Mediations are not legally binding. Alternative dispute resolution hearings are typically confidential and are not a matter of public record, unlike a lawsuit. The American Arbitration Association is a national service that allows you to search for a professional as well.

You will need to select a local arbitrator or mediator. If you need recommendations, your local courts or bar association should have a list of recommended options. The American Arbitration Association is a national service that allows you to search for a professional as well. Once you've chosen an arbitrator or mediator, you will need to let the opposing party know.

Contracts that don't specify that arbitration or mediation have to be utilized can still select ADR as a resolution option.

Breach of Contract Elements

There are four primary elements in a breach of contract complaint:

  • There must be a valid contract.
  • The party bringing the suit performed its obligations.
  • The party bringing the suit complained to the opposing party that they failed to honor their obligations.
  • The contract breach resulted in damages for the plaintiff.

In the event the formation of a contract is not obvious, you will have to explain how the contract was formed and confirm that there was an offer, acceptance, and consideration. Explain the offer in detail so that the court will be satisfied that the terms were well-defined and certain.

It's also recommended that the complaint include information on the parties:

  • What their businesses are.
  • Goals related to the contract.
  • Why the contract is important.
  • The course of performance.
  • The suit is filed in the correct venue.
  • Include a demand for a jury trial if you wish (and it's an option in your case).

Also, your complaint should explain the damages suffered by the plaintiff in terms of direct, incidental, and consequential. If the case doesn't deal with financial losses, include a detailed explanation of what harm the breach of contract caused, and estimate damages as best you can.

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