Florida District Court Discusses Jurisdiction Over Uninsured Motorist Cases

October 27, 2023 | Jarrett Blakeley
Florida District Court Discusses Jurisdiction Over Uninsured Motorist Cases

In Florida, most drivers have underinsured motorist insurance, which provides coverage for losses incurred due to accidents with people with inadequate insurance. Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to avoid their obligations by refusing to pay insured individuals the benefits they are owed. In such instances, the insureds can file lawsuits against the insurer, alleging breach of contract and other claims. In many instances, insurance companies will attempt to move cases to federal court in efforts to obtain more favorable rulings. Recently, a Florida court discussed the requirements for proving a federal court can exercise jurisdiction over a matter in a case in which the plaintiff sought remand of an underinsured motorist claim. If your insurer denied you uninsured motorist benefits, you should speak to a Florida car accident lawyer about your options for seeking redress.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was involved in a rear-end collision with an underinsured motorist. She sustained significant injuries and subsequently filed an underinsured motorist claim with the defendant, the company that provided her automobile insurance. The defendant denied her claim, after which she filed a lawsuit in state court. The complaint alleged her damages were in excess of thirty-thousand dollars and one cent, but the sum in parentheses after the damages amount was $100,000. The defendant, a resident of Michigan, removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand, arguing that the defendant failed to show the amount in controversy was sufficient to meet the jurisdictional requirements.

Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Uninsured Motorist Claims

Defendants that remove cases from state court to federal court bear the burden of proving that federal jurisdiction exists. In part, this requires a defendant to set forth a notice of removal that includes a plausible assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. If a plaintiff disputes an allegation in a notice of removal or a court questions it, the defendant then has to produce evidence showing the amount in controversy requirement is met.

The court noted that conclusory allegations in a notice of removal that the jurisdictional amount is satisfied are insufficient to meet the defendant’s burden if the defendant does not set forth facts supporting the allegations. In other words, it must set forth evidence, which along with reasonable inferences, deductions, and extrapolations, supports the removal. Further, the court cannot speculate about the amount in controversy. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to demonstrate that the $100,000 set forth in the plaintiff’s complaint was not a typographical error but was the actual amount in controversy.

Meet with a Trusted Florida Car Accident Lawyer

Many people who are injured in crashes caused by underinsured motorists are unjustly denied benefits from their insurers, and they must take legal action to recover damages. If you were hurt in a collision, you should meet with an attorney about your rights. Jarrett Blakeley is a trusted Florida car accident lawyer who can advise you of your potential claims and help you to seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Blakeley at (800) 602-5000 or via the online form to set up a conference.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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