Florida District Court Explains Proof Needed to Establish Federal Jurisdiction

While the majority of South Florida car accident cases are pursued in state court, in some cases it may be more beneficial to file a case in federal court. There are certain requirements for litigating a case in federal court, however, and a federal court will remand the case to state court if it finds it does not have jurisdiction over the matter. Federal jurisdictional requirements must be met whether a plaintiff files the initial pleading in federal court, or a defendant removes the case to federal court.

Recently, a Florida district court remanded a case removed by the defendant back to state court, finding that there was insufficient proof of damages for the court to retain jurisdiction. If you sustained harm due to a South Florida car accident, it is important to retain an attorney who is well-versed in the procedural requirements for proving your case in either state or federal court.

Removal to Federal Court

Allegedly, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident, after which she filed a lawsuit in state court, naming two defendants. One of the defendants removed the case to federal court on the grounds of diversity jurisdiction. The court, in assessing whether the removal was proper, issued an order requiring the removing defendant to supplement the Notice of Removal to show why the case should not be remanded and stated that if the defendant failed to do so the case would be remanded without notice.

Satisfying the Amount in Controversy Threshold

In its analysis, the court stated that to exercise jurisdiction, there must be complete diversity between the parties, meaning they must be from different states, and the amount in controversy must exceed $75,000, not counting interest and costs. On review, the court found that the removing defendant had not sufficiently shown that the amount in controversy exceeded the required minimum. In cases such as the subject case where the amount in controversy is not clear from the initial pleading, it must be shown by a preponderance of the evidence. Courts are not permitted to speculate as to the amount but can make reasonable inferences based on the facts alleged.

Here, the defendant argued that because the plaintiff alleged a concussion, bruising, headaches and lacerations and admitted her damages exceeded $75,000, the jurisdictional threshold was met. The court was not convinced, noting that an admission which is merely a conclusion unsupported by facts does not relieve the removing defendant from the requirement of showing jurisdiction. As the court was left to speculate as to the plaintiff’s damages, it ordered the defendant to produce further support that the removal was valid.

Discuss your case with a Skilled South Florida Car Accident Attorney Today

If you were involved in a South Florida car accident that left you with injuries or property damage, you should meet with a skilled car accident attorney to discuss the facts of your case and the appropriate jurisdiction for filing your lawsuit. The South Florida personal injury attorneys of Donaldson & Weston are experienced in navigating both the state and federal courts and will help you formulate a plan that provides with you a strong chance of obtaining a favorable verdict under the circumstances surrounding your accident. We can be reached at 772-266-5555 or 561-299-3999 to set up a free and confidential conference.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Court Holds Policy Language Excludes UIM Coverage Benefits for Injuries Sustained by a Resident Relative in a Car Not Owned by the Insured, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 30, 2018