Thursday, July 30, 2015

Removal Based on Punitive Damages Claim

A case may be removed to federal court based on complete diversity of citizenship and more than $75,000.00 in controversy.  Does an unspecified amount of damages allow jurisdiction?  If there is a claim for punitive damages, yes.  An unspecified demand for punitive damages alone is sufficient to meet the jurisdictional limit of this Court pursuant to Mississippi law. See St. Paul Reinsurance Co., Ltd. v. Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1253 (5th Cir. 1998); Myers v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, Inc., 5 F. Supp. 2d 423, 428-429 (N.D. Miss. 1998); Marcel v. Poole Co., 5 F.3d 81, 84-85 (5th Cir. 1993); Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hilben, 692 F. Supp. 698, 701 (S.D. Miss. 1988); see also, Montgomery v. First Family Fin. Serv. Inc., 239 F. Supp.2d 600,605 (S.D. Miss. 2002) (Mississippi federal courts consistently hold that an unspecified amount claimed as punitive damages under Mississippi law is deemed to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement for federal jurisdiction).

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