Proposed Increase in Procedural Amount in Civil Cases in Boston Municipal and District Courts

The Supreme Judicial Court solicits comments on or before May 10, 2019 on a recommendation from the Trial Court to increase the procedural amount for civil actions in Boston Municipal and District Courts.

The Supreme Judicial Court solicits comments on a recommendation from the Trial Court to increase the procedural amount for civil actions in Boston Municipal and District Courts from $25,000 to $50,000. Under G.L. c. 218, § 19,  civil actions for money damages may proceed in the District and Boston Municipal Court departments “. . .  only if there is no reasonable likelihood that recovery by the plaintiff will exceed $25,000, or an amount ordered from time to time by the Supreme Judicial Court.” (emphasis added) The Court is considering exercising this authority in response to the recommendation from the Trial Court. If the Court accepts the recommendation, this will be the first increase in the procedural amount ordered by the Court. 

As described in the letter from Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula Carey that appears at the link below, the increased amount would simply reflect the effect of inflation since the amount was originally established in 1986. Further, in recent years, the District and Boston Municipal Courts have taken measures to improve the handling of civil cases, including establishing dedicated civil sessions and designating judges and staff for those sessions. These measures, combined with increased judicial resources due to a decrease in incoming civil cases in those courts, and a significant increase in the small claims jurisdictional amount that allows more cases to be heard by Clerk Magistrates, will enable the District and Boston Municipal Courts to handle larger civil cases in an efficient and cost effective manner.

The Court welcomes comments from the Bar on the proposed increase. Chief Justice Carey's letter appears at the link below. Comments should be directed to Christine P. Burak, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, One Pemberton Square, Boston, MA  02108 on or before May 10, 2019. Comments may also be emailed to christine.burak@jud.state.ma.us. Comments received will be made available to the public.  

Letter from Chief Justice of the Trial Court Paula Carey

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