Which Courts Have Jurisdiction
1. Justice Court
Each county has a justice court. M.C.A. 3-10-101, et seq. Generally, justice courts may hear matters where the amount in controversy does not exceed $7,000. M.C.A. §3-10-301. Justice court service of process is limited to the boundaries of the county where the court sits. M.C.A. §3-10-304.
2. Municipal Court
Montana cities that have a population of 4,000 or more may establish municipal courts. M.C.A. §3-6-101 et seq. Municipal courts generally have exclusive jurisdiction over enforcement of city ordinances and collection of city fees and property so long as the amount in controversy does not exceed $5,000. M.C.A. §3-11-103.
3. District Courts
Montana has 21 judicial districts. M.C.A. §3-5-101. Generally, district courts have jurisdiction over all civil and probate matters. M.C.A. §3-5-302(1)(b). There is no minimum or maximum amount in controversy, so as a result most substantial civil litigation takes place in the district courts. Service of process of the district courts is limited only by the state’s long arm provisions and due process concerns. Montana Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 1 Rule 4B.
4. Federal Court
Montana’s federal district court has jurisdiction to hear cases arising under the laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. 1331. The court can also hear state causes of action if the parties are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. 1332.