Harshey v. Advanced Bionics Corp.

No. 1:09-cv-905-DFH-TAB, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100921 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 29, 2009)



The separate claims of various plaintiffs may not be aggregated to satisfy the jurisdictional amount in controversy requirement under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332. At least one of the claims must satisfy the requirement. If one does, the other related claims of the plaintiffs may be joined in one federal case under the supplemental jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C.S. § 1367.


The husband, who had surgery for implantation of a pulse generator manufactured by defendants, claimed that the device malfunctioned and subjected him to painful and dangerous shocks. The wife claimed loss of consortium, and the son claimed negligent infliction of emotional distress. All three filed a motion to remand to state court their personal injury action against the medical device manufacturers for failure to show that the jurisdictional amount was satisfied. Plaintiffs submitted post-removal stipulations stating that none of them individually sought, demanded, or would accept any recovery in excess of $ 75,000. To meet their burden of establishing jurisdiction, defendants relied on the statement of their counsel that their experience with personal injury litigation and the general descriptions of plaintiffs' alleged injuries showed that the amount in controversy was satisfied. 


Was the jurisdictional amount satisfied?




The court granted plaintiffs' motion to remand the action to state court. The court held that defense counsel's statement was not sufficient to meet defendants' burden of providing competent proof of jurisdiction. The cases cited by defendants offered no meaningful guidance about the value of plaintiffs' claims for injuries stemming from the asserted malfunction of the implanted medical device. Defendants' foundation for exercising federal jurisdiction relied on guesswork and speculation.


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