Special Civil Part Section
Special Civil is one of three sections of the Superior Court's Special Civil Part. The other two sections are Landlord/Tenant and Small Claims.
Special Civil is limited to cases in which the demand is $15,000.00 or less. If you believe you are entitled to recover more than $15,000.00, your case should be filed in the Law Division of the Superior Court. If the amount of money you are trying to recover is $3,000, or less, you may wish to file in Small Claims Part.
If you believe you are entitled to damages greater than $15,000.00, but still wish to sue in Special Civil, you give up your right to recover damages over $15,000.00. The additional money cannot be claimed later in a separate lawsuit.
The person filing the complaint is called the plaintiff. The person being sued is the defendant. The plaintiff must be 18 years or older, and if not, the complaint must be filed by a parent or guardian.
Where to File
A complaint must be filed in the Office the Special Civil Part of the county where at least one defendant lives or where the defendant’s business is located. If there is more than one defendant, the complaint can be filed in the county where any of the defendants live or are located. If none of the defendants live or are located in New Jersey, the complaint must be filed where the cause of the complaint occurred.
Once a Complaint is Filed
After the complaint is filed, a trial date will not be set unless the defendant files an Answer with the correct filing fee within 35 days from the date that he/she is served with the complaint. Defendants may file a counterclaim with their answer if they believe that the plaintiff who is suing them owes them money. If the defendant does not file an answer, the plaintiff may request that the court enter default judgment.
If a trial is scheduled, both parties will be required to appear. If the plaintiff does not appear at the trial, the case may be dismissed. If the defendant does not appear at the trial, a default judgment may be entered against him/her.
Documents to be filed that require a fee should be delivered to the fee processing office at 120 Hooper Avenue, 2nd Floor, Room 214.
For legal advice about your rights, you should contact a lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer contact the Lawyers' Referral Service of the County Bar Association. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may contact the Legal Services Program to see if you are eligible to receive free legal services.
Lawyers' Referral Service
Ocean County Bar Association Referral Service - 732-244-2121 ext.3946
South Jersey Legal Services - 1-800-496-4570 or 732-608-7794