“How much does it cost to sue someone?”

That’s a bewildering search string I’ve seen over the past few days.

Why bewildering? Because the person looking for an answer seems to think there’s a flat price for a lawsuit. There isn’t.

If the question is how much does it cost to file a lawsuit, there is an answer. And, quite serendipitously, if you’re considering filing a federal lawsuit you will get that answer from a federal judge.

Yesterday, the Times published an article by Joseph Goldstein called, “A Court Rule Directs Cases Over Friskings To One Judge.” I had pretty much intended to link to this article — it’s a major lawsuit with great repercussions for the City and police department, as well as for the plaintiffs. So I read the entire piece and here’s what I found in the last four paragraphs (I bolded one specific statement]:

In court, Judge [Shira] Scheindlin suggested a route other than trying to reopen the old case.

“If you got proof of inappropriate racial profiling in a good constitutional case, why don’t you bring a lawsuit?” she asked. “You can certainly mark it as related.”

At another point she said, “For $350, you can bring that lawsuit,” a reference to the filing fee.

About a month later, the lawyers filed Floyd v. City of New York, now at trial in her courtroom.

If you want to sue in New York Supreme Court, the filing fee is … well, why don’t you find it yourself? A little bit of homework: under my Sites of Interest, click on NYS Unified Court Systems, then Supreme & Civil, then Supreme Civil Branch. Run the cursor on the left side over Court Resources, then click on Fees.

You’ll see that it costs $210 in New York Supreme Courts to file a lawsuit, i.e., buy an index number.

Those are the fees in federal and state court to “sue someone.”

Unless you’ve got a contingency case, though, pursuing the lawsuit with an attorney is somewhat more expensive. My lawsuit against the Board of Directors of my co-op, filed in September 2007 for that filing fee of $210, has as of this month cost me almost $190,000.

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