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Removing Your Case to Federal Court and Keeping it There (Article)

May 10, 2022

Defendants often prefer that their cases be heard in federal court. Rice, Jill Cranston, The Federal Rules are Right for our State Courts, 59 No. 5 DRI For Def. 13 (May 2017). We assume your client shares this preference. This article provides a go-to reference for young practitioners and helpful pointers for senior lawyers to remove your case to federal court and keep it there.

The Basics – Requirements of Diversity Jurisdiction

We start with the fundamental premise that “[f]ederal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Federal courts only hear cases as authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress. Audi Performance & Racing, LLC v. Kasberger, 273 F. Supp. 2d 1220, 1225 (M.D. Ala. 2003). Article III, section 2 of the United States Constitution provides for federal jurisdiction over controversies between citizens of different states. Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 84 (2010). This is known as diversity jurisdiction. However, the Constitution does not automatically confer diversity jurisdiction upon federal courts, but, instead, authorizes Congress to do so. Id. 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is the statute conferring diversity jurisdiction on federal courts. The statute provides a federal forum where the opposing parties are citizens of different states. Iraola & CIA, S.A. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 232 F.3d 854, 858 (11th Cir. 2000). This article focuses solely on diversity jurisdiction.

28 U.S.C. § 1332 contains both jurisdictional and procedural requirements. There are only two jurisdictional requirements: “complete diversity of citizenship of the adverse parties” and “an amount in controversy exceeding $75,000.” Turntine v. Peterson, 959 F.3d 873, 880 (8th Cir. 2020). So long as those requirements are met, diversity jurisdiction exists. All other requirements are procedural.

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