Is Defendant’s Jury Prayer Timely?

I think one of the tougher things to do in preparing an injury case for litigation can be determining the proper court and ad damnum amount for suit. This usually comes up in cases where the damages are significant enough that the case can’t be filed in the District Court for $10,000.00 or under.

The injury lawyer handling the case then has to decide whether to file in the District Court for $30,000.00 or to seek a higher amount and file in the Circuit Court. This can be a tricky decision, and there are a number of factors that come into play. For example, does the case justify the cost of paying the doctor to testify live at trial or on video? Where the case is too large to be filed for $10,000.00 is too small to justify filing in the Circuit Court, the only option is to file for $30,000.00 in the District Court.

This raises the possibility that the defense may pray a jury trial. In Maryland, defendants have a right to a jury trial in any injury case where the damages claimed are $10,000.00 or more. This means you will wait longer for trial, spend more time conducting discovery, and spend more money getting the case ready.

What can be done about this? Make sure that the defendant has followed the rules. A defendant must file a jury demand within ten days after the time for filing a notice of intention to defend. Md. Rule 3-325. Normally, a notice of intention to defend must be filed within fifteen days after service of the complaint. Md. Rule 3-307. So generally, a timely jury demand must be made within twenty-five days after service of the complaint. If the jury demand is not timely, the right to a jury trial is waived. Pickett v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 365 Md. 67, 775 A.2d 1218 (2001).

Any motion to strike a jury demand must be filed in the Circuit Court once the record has been transmitted there. Md. Rule 3-325(c). This procedure can help you make sure that the cases you file in the District Court stay there.