There are limits to the legal authority of each court to hear and decide a case. For a court to be able to decide a case, it has to have jurisdiction.
Before you file your lawsuit, you need to figure out which court has:
More than one court may have jurisdiction over a certain case.
Note: You cannot sue the federal government in state court. You can only sue the federal government or a federal agency in federal court.
The most common way to have personal jurisdiction over a person, a business or an organization is by suing where that person lives, or, for a business or organization, where they do business.
In general, all California superior courts have jurisdiction over a person that lives in California or can be found in California, and businesses or organizations that do business in California.
So, as long as you are suing someone who lives in California or a company or organization that does business here, the superior court has personal jurisdiction.
There are three types of subject matter jurisdiction:
The types of cases discussed in this website are almost all cases you can file in your superior court because it has subject matter jurisdiction.
While jurisdiction says in what state and what court you file your lawsuit, “venue” is the county where you file your action.
Usually, venue is in the county where:
It is possible to have a situation where more than one county is the proper venue for you to file your lawsuit. For example, back to the car accident scenario: If the driver that hit you lives in Los Angeles county, the owner of the car lives in Orange County, and the accident happened in Riverside county, you can choose which of those three counties (L.A., Orange County or Riverside) to file your lawsuit in.
You can read more about venue in different types of cases in the California Code of Civil Procedure sections 392 through 403.