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Federal Court in Florida Remands Slip and Fall Case Due to Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

gas stationFiling a personal injury claim can be a complicated process. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our diligent and hardworking Miami injury attorneys understand the procedural rules that can be vital to your case.

In Chase v. Hess Operations LLC, a woman was injured in a slip and fall accident at a Hess gas station. The incident took place in Clearwater, Florida. Some time afterward, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the gas station in state court. The gas station then removed the lawsuit to the Middle District of Florida based on diversity of citizenship, due to the fact that the woman denied that her total damages did not exceed $75,000 in her response to certain requests for admissions.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant can remove a lawsuit to federal court if the parties in the lawsuit are of diverse citizenship, which simply means that the parties must be from two different states, and the amount of damages in question exceeds $75,000. The defendant must establish these requirements by a preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence standard requires a party to show that his or her version of events is more likely true than not.

In the case at hand, it was undisputed that the parties were from different states. However, whether the amount in controversy was more than $75,000 was unclear. To address this issue, the federal court directed the Hess gas station to supplement the record regarding the amount in controversy following removal.

Once the evidence provided by the gas station was reviewed, the court concluded that there was nothing in the record, complaint, or notice of removal to back up the gas station’s claim that the lawsuit met the damages requirement for removal based on diversity of citizenship. Instead, the Hess gas station based its request purely on the plaintiff’s response to its requests for admissions. The federal court clarified that the woman’s discovery responses pertaining to the amount in controversy were not adequate to support the removal of the case to federal court.

Additionally, the court noted that the plaintiff’s denial was too speculative to merit removal without additional evidence to support the gas station’s amount of damages. Since the plaintiff made an indefinite demand for damages in a Florida court, it was the defendant’s burden to show the amount in controversy was met. Since the defendant failed to meet its burden, the case was remanded back to state court.

Procedural rules are a vital yet complex aspect of personal injury cases. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our Miami premises liability attorneys understand the nuances of this area of law. You can rest assured that we will be vigilant of all applicable procedural rules in your case. Our hardworking team has the skill, knowledge, and determination to handle your claim. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. To learn more about your legal rights and options, feel free to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Fatal Car Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, September 25, 2015

Falling Merchandise Injuries in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 31, 2015

Eleventh Circuit Makes Evidentiary Ruling in Florida Slip-and-Fall Case Involving Expert Testimony, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 31, 2015