In A.Z. v. Bonnet Creek Resort Vacation Condominium Assoc., Inc., a minor was apparently injured when she tripped and fell while visiting a Florida condominium complex. The Georgia resident later filed a lawsuit against the property owner in Orange County, Florida Circuit Court. In response to the purportedly injured child’s complaint, the condo association removed the lawsuit to federal court.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a civil case may be removed to federal court when no federal questions exist if the parties to a lawsuit are citizens of different states, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. At the time of removal, the condominium association also requested discovery concerning the minor plaintiff’s Georgia citizenship. Following removal to federal court, the Middle District of Florida in Orlando ordered the parties to address whether remand back to a Florida state court was appropriate sua sponte, or of the court’s own accord. Generally, a court may take such an action without a request from either party if a case should be transferred to another court due to a conflict of interest, or the court believes it likely does not have jurisdiction over the parties’ dispute.
In response to the Orlando court’s instructions, the minor plaintiff asserted that jurisdiction over the premises liability case belonged to the Florida court where the case was originally filed. Typically, a complaint that was filed in the jurisdiction in which a Florida or other defendant resides will not be removed to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). Under the law, an action “may not be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.” Despite this, multiple circuit courts have held that the forum defendant rule described in the statute is a procedural requirement that may be waived if an objection is not entered within 30 days.
Although the condo association was not in favor of remanding the case back to state court, the defendant did not oppose the plaintiff’s request for remand in the premises liability case. As a result, the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division ultimately entered a later adopted report and recommendation that federal diversity jurisdiction was not appropriate. Because of this, the dispute was remanded back to state court.
Procedural, scheduling, and other rules that govern a pending lawsuit often differ in state and federal courts. These variances can be confusing to injured parties and other individuals who are not accustomed to navigating the legal system. In order to protect your right to recover damages for your premises liability or other injury claim, it is important to file your personal injury case with the appropriate court.
If you or someone close to you was hurt due to a Florida property owner’s negligence, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able. To discuss your right to recover damages with a skilled South Florida premises liability attorney today, call the hardworking advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.
A.Z. v. Bonnet Creek Resort Vacation Condominium Assoc., Inc., Dist. Court, MD Florida 2015
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