Florida Federal Court Highlights Importance of Civil Procedure Rules in Personal Injury Case

Civil procedure and knowing where, when, and how to file your lawsuit are critical aspects of strategy and litigation planning. These laws can vary depending on whether you file your claim in state or federal court, and they can also vary among state courts. The recent case of Derringer v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. highlights the importance of ensuring that your personal injury claim is filed appropriately. In that case, the plaintiff claimed that she was hit in the head with a serving tray of food at a Florida restaurant. According to her complaint, an employee at the restaurant hit the woman in the head with the tray while walking to another table.

The plaintiff filed her lawsuit against the restaurant in Florida state court, and the restaurant removed the case to federal court based on diversity of citizenship. According to civil procedure, when a lawsuit involves parties from two different states and the amount disputed in the lawsuit exceeds $75,000, either of the parties has the option of removing the case, or sending it to federal court. The party attempting to remove the case to federal court has the burden of showing that removal is proper. The statute providing for removal has been interpreted narrowly by the courts, resolving any issues about whether removal is proper in favor of sending the case back to state court.

Shortly after the removal was granted, the plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to remand the case to Florida state court. The plaintiff argued that removal was improper because the restaurant waited too long to remove the case–nine months after the complaint was filed–and the restaurant had failed to prove that the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000.

The restaurant responded by arguing that each party to the lawsuit was from a different state, that it had properly established the amount in controversy, and that it made its motion for removal on a timely basis.

On review, the federal court denied the woman’s motion to remand the case, finding that she failed to submit copies of the documents upon which she relied in making her argument. Regarding the merits of each party’s claim, the court found that the plaintiff had admitted to believing that the damages in her case amounted to at least $200,000 during a deposition. Additionally, since the restaurant sought removal 30 days after the deposition testimony regarding these damages, the restaurant did not exceed any time restrictions on removal. The company also filed an affidavit showing that it was both incorporated and maintained a principal place of business in Tennessee. The plaintiff was unable to provide any evidence to the contrary, and the federal court denied her motion for remand.

If you or someone you know has suffered harm as the result of another’s carelessness, you may be entitled to compensation. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano have helped many Southwest Florida residents bring a claim to recover compensation, including people in Fort Myers, Naples, and Cape Coral. We know what it takes to carefully and strategically plan a lawsuit and can guide you through every step of the process. Call us now at 1-800-283-7442 or contact us online to set up your free consultation now.

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