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Troupe v. C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. - 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56678 (M.D. Ga. July 2, 2009)

Rule:

The jurisdictional amount in controversy may be satisfied where plaintiff has likely incurred damages such as long-term medical expenses, mental and physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of wages and earning capacity, and permanent disability and disfigurement or other serious injuries.

Facts:

Plaintiff Zelma Troupe slipped and fell on premises owned and operated by defendant C&S Wholesale Grocers. She subsequently filed a negligence action in Georgia state court alleging that she suffered "severe physical injuries" and "excruciating and severe physical distress" as a result of defendant's negligent inspection and maintenance of its premises. She sought damages for medical expenses in an amount "in excess of $ 13,637.00" and prayed for an additional award of "all damages allowed under Georgia Law including, but not limited to, recovery for special and general damages, including pain and suffering, both mental and physical, in the amount to be proven at the time of trial." Plaintiff further sought to recover punitive damages, the cost of litigation, and "such other and further relief" as the court deemed just and proper. Upon review of the complaint, defendant filed a timely answer and notice of removal of the action to federal district court. Plaintiff then filed a motion seeking remand and an award of payment of just costs, actual expenses, and attorney fees incurred.

 

Issue:

Did the amount in controversy in plaintiff's case exceed the minimum amount required by 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332(a)(1)?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court denied plaintiff's motion for remand, holding that defendant carried its burden of proving that, if plaintiff prevailed, her damages would "more likely than not" exceed the minimum jurisdictional amount. The court noted that plaintiff's complaint clearly identified a specific amount of damages for medical expenses in excess of $ 13,637.00; plaintiff also sought to recover an unspecified amount for punitive damages and all other damages allowed under Georgia Law and as the court deemed proper.  Thus, the court found that plaintiff's damages were unspecified, and therefore defendant needed only prove that, if plaintiff prevailed, her damages would "more likely than not" exceed the minimum jurisdictional amount. Defendant met that burden, the court ruled.

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