Federal Court Refuses to Remand Florida Woman’s Negligence Lawsuit Back to State Court

In Derringer v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., a woman was allegedly injured when she was struck with a plate of food that a Florida restaurant employee was carrying. As a result of her harm, the woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant in a Florida court. About nine months later, the restaurant removed the negligence case to the Middle District of Florida, based on diversity of citizenship. After that, the injured plaintiff asked the federal court to remand the action back to state court.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a case may be removed to federal court when the parties hail from different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. In general, the party who seeks removal bears the burden of demonstrating to the court that a case should be tried in federal court. If a defendant fails to do so, the action must be remanded back to state court. Additionally, the removal statute is construed narrowly by the courts. Typically, any doubts must be resolved in favor of a case being tried in state court.

According to the hurt woman, her negligence complaint merited remand because the restaurant waited too long to seek removal. The woman claimed the restaurant had access to evidence that demonstrated that removal was proper for several months before filing its request. The woman also alleged that the restaurant failed to adequately establish the amount in controversy met the statutory threshold. The federal court stated the woman’s argument was not persuasive, since she did not provide it with copies of the alleged documents. The court added that the injured woman merely made unsubstantiated objections in her motion.

The restaurant argued that the parties were citizens of different states, the amount in controversy was established, and its request to remove the case to federal court was timely. After examining the facts of the case, the court said the woman admitted that she believed her negligence claim was worth at least $200,000 in her deposition testimony. The federal court then stated the restaurant’s motion was not unduly delayed because it complied with the deadlines enumerated in the law, and its request for removal was filed less than 30 days after the hurt woman provided her testimony regarding damages.

After that, the court dismissed the woman’s claim that the restaurant failed to establish the parties were diverse because the company filed an affidavit stating it was incorporated and maintained its principal place of business in Tennessee. Since the woman failed to provide any contradictory evidence, the court found that the parties were diverse. Since the parties hailed from different states and the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000, the Middle District of Florida denied the injured woman’s motion for remand.

Procedural, scheduling, and a variety of other rules that govern a civil lawsuit may be different in state and federal courts. Such differences can be confusing to individuals who are not accustomed to navigating the legal system. In order to protect your rights, it is important to file your personal injury claim with the appropriate court. If you were injured in South Florida as a result of someone else’s negligent act, you should have a caring attorney on your side to explain your legal rights and help you protect your interests. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer, contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. online or give us a call at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Derringer v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., Dist. Court, MD Florida 2015

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Appeals Court Finds Expert Evidence Improperly Excluded in South Florida Cruise Ship Negligence Case, August 13, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida Appeals Court States Evidence Code Applies to Workers’ Compensation Cases, August 10, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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