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What do I need to file to start a new lawsuit?

To file a civil case, you must give the clerk of court the following items at the same time.  You can mail them or deliver them in person.  You must submit all documents on paper as the clerk will not accept fax filings or other electronic means for filing without prior permission from the Clerk of Court:

  • Complaint:  The Court has civil complaint forms available for you to use which include instructions that will help you explain your lawsuit to the presiding judge and to the opposing party or parties.

  • Filing Fee:  The filing fee for a complaint is $350.00 plus a $50.00 administrative fee for a total of $400.00.  This amount is set by Congress and cannot be changed by the Court.  The $400.00 fee must be made payable to the Clerk, U.S. District Court and submitted simultaneously with the filing of your complaint.  If you pay the $400.00 filing and administrative fee, you will be responsible for serving the summons and complaint upon the defendant(s) in accordance with Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  You may choose to serve the defendant(s) by waiver of service, as described in Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee at the time you file the complaint, see the following link.

  • Summons:  If you pay the $400.00 filing fee and administrative fee, you will be required to serve the complaint and a summons on each defendant.  The summons is a document which demands the defendant to respond to the complaint.  You can obtain a summons from the clerk’s office or by clicking on this link to the court's self representation forms page.  In the blank space that asks for the name and address of the defendant being served, you can put down the name of the party you are suing and his/her address.  The clerk's office cannot issue summonses without this information.  After serving the defendants, you must file the return of service as proof that the defendant has been served in the case.