Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Amount-In-Controversy Case in Virginia

Here is an excerpt from a posting by Paul Fletcher, the publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly:

A veterinary supplies company says that a vet named Rasnic owes it $74,139.24 and wants to sue to collect. Can the company, Merial Ltd., sue in federal court?

It’s a contract action and there’s no federal statute involved, so the plaintiff has to rely on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) to get into federal court. Company is based in Georgia, defendant is from Scott County. Check. The magic number for diversity jurisdiction, any one-L will tell you, is $75,000. So Merial is about 800 bucks short.

Wait, Merial also wants interest of about 15 grand and $2,500 in attorney’s fees, based on language in its invoices. However, the federal rule says $75K, “exclusive of interest and costs.” Rasnic asked that the claim be dismissed.

Merial still can go forward in federal court, according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent in Merial Ltd. v. Rasnic. The judge provides a handy primer on what to argue when you’re oh-so-close to that 75K figure.

The full post with details of the ruling can be found here. A PDF of the opinion can be found here.

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