Thursday, June 05, 2003

Fourth Circuit reverses dismissal for lack of sufficient amount in controversy in diversity case involving Virginia construction law dispute

In Dennis Stubbs Plumbing, Inc. v. Travelers Cas. & Surety Co., the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Judges Luttig and Michael and District Judge Goodwin reversed the district court's dismissal of a construction contract claim, where the district court had concluded that most of the plaintiff's alleged damages were barred by the "no damages for delay" clause in the contract, and therefore the amount in controversy was below $75,000. So, now, they are back in federal court, which makes me wonder why did the defendant litigate the case this way rather than trying to get summary judgment, but maybe it was the district court's sua sponte idea that the issue was jurisdictional. I've had something like this come up where the plaintiff has a piddling damages claim attached to a punitive damages for the statutory limit that puts the case over the jurisdictional amount, and wondered whether to attack federal jurisdiction but never decided to it.

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