• September 20, 2017

Photograph by Maura Teague

It is a shame when a justice system behaves unjustly.

In Minnesota, when a client is sued in state court and removes the case to federal court, the client is obligated to pay a “filing fee” to the state court for the simple filing of a one-page Notice of Filing of Removal in the state court (at least in Hennepin County). (Federal law requires the filing of this “Notice of Filing” to the state court.)

Imagine getting a bill when you RSVP “no” to a wedding.

Your submission in case 27-CV-17-XXX, ABC vs XYZ has beenĀ rejected.

Reason(s) forĀ Rejection: Our records show that you have not paid the initial filing fee. Plese resubmit your document with the fee of $299.00.

Comment: Our records show that you have not paid the initial filing fee. Please resubmit your document with the fee of $299.00.

Envelope Number: xxxxxxx
Filing Code : Notice of Removal to Federal Court
Filing Description: Notice of Filing of Removal
Date Submitted: 9/12/2017

Lawyers typically pass these costs on to their clients, of course, and, for many clients a $299 court filing fee (plus an added $5 fee to use the e-filing system (which we are required to use)) is a drop in the bucket.

This is too often how fortunes are made — by opportunistic “nickle and diming.” One might even say that these ubiquitous little surcharges, fees, or spiffs, are inherent in any market system. (For example, you get a new car and have to pay some grossly inflated amount for the floor mats, etc.)

But it is a problem when our courts play by these marketplace rules because (1) they are a monopoly; (2) they are supposed to exist to provide Minnesotans with the “just, speedy, inexpensive determination of every action.

Rule 1 of our civil court system continues:

It is the responsibility of the court and the parties to examine each civil action to assure that the process and the costs are proportionate to the amount in controversy and the complexity and importance of the issues.

It is impossible to square charging $304 for the one-time filing of a required one-page notice with these stated goals and responsibilities.

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