Combine Damages to Meet Amount in Controversy to File in Federal Court?
I represent two Oklahoma residents in Missouri auto wreck. Can I combine their damages to meet amount in controversy to file in federal court so as not to have to file in Missouri?
Answer: You cannot aggregate claims from different individuals to reach the jurisdictional amount. See: Donato v. Parillo, 278 F.Supp. 892 (D.C.N.Y. 1967), Curtis v. Peerless Ins. Co., 299 F.Supp. 429 (D. Minn. 1969). Your question implies another problem though--it appears you think you can sue the Missouri defendants in federal court in Oklahoma where you don't have jurisdiction to sue them in our state courts. Except for a very few special cases (such as interpleader) the personal jurisdiction over a defendant in federal court is no broader than the personal jurisdiction of an Oklahoma court over that same defendant. It gets worse. If you sue in Oklahoma and can’t establish personal jurisdiction over the Missouri defendants and the statute has runs in Missouri, your claim is barred and will not be saved by 12 O.S. Sec. 100, the saving statute which permits you to refile within a year. Unless you are pretty sure you can get jurisdiction in an Oklahoma court, you need to get your suit field in Missouri within their statute of limitation.
Posted on Mon, August 24, 2009
by Sharon Coleman filed under