Federal Jurisdiction

Henry, a resident of Nevada, sued Adam, a resident of Utah in the Federal Court in California. He sought $60,000 damages for personal injuries arising from an automobile accident that occurred in Los Angeles, California. Does the Federal Court have jurisdiction? No the federal court does not have jurisdiction over this case. In order for this case to fall within the guidelines of a federal suit it would have to qualify for diversity of citizenship. Diversity of citizenship exists in suits between (1) citizens of different states, (2) a citizen of a state and a citizen of a foreign country, and (3) a state and citizens of another state. In this case since Henry is a resident of Nevada and Adam is a resident of Utah he can file the suit in California where the accident occurred but it must be in state court. Diversity of Citizenship has a minimal jurisdictional amount of $75,000. Henry is only asking for $60,000 in damages. The only other way for this case to be tried in federal court would be if Henry could prove that the lawsuit contains a federal question.

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For this there is no jurisdictional amount. Civil actions that would fall under this may involve matters such as bankruptcy, anti-trust, securities regulations, patents, copyrights, trademarks, taxes, elections, the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and those rights secured to individual citizens by the Fourteenth Amendment (Morgan, Shedd & Corley, 2010). The information given does not show where any of the federal questions come into play. However if this case could be tried in federal court it would actually benefit the defendant as it has the advantage of allowing for the jury to be selected from an area larger than the county where the case arose. This hopefully will reduce the possibility of jurors tending to favor the plaintiff. Henry would be better of hiring a personal injury attorney.

What rules of procedure will the court use? The court selected by the plaintiff must decide both whether it has the jurisdiction to hear the case and, if it has, whether another forum is more suitable for the disposition of the case. In this case they would use the rules of procedure for civil cases under the state of California judicial rule. Why? The case will have to be tried in state court versus federal court because it does not qualify as a federal case. In the state court it would be seen as a civil case brought against Adam by Henry. What rules of substantive law will the court use? The court would use the substantive law, including conflict of laws principles, of the state in which they are sitting. In California they would use civil law.


Morgan, J., Shedd, P., & Corley, R. (2010). Business law. (3 ed., pp. 3-40). Redding, CA: BVT Publishing, LLC.

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