'Common Sense Legal Reform' and Bell's Toll: Eliminating Punitive Damage Claims from Jurisdictional Amount Calculations in Federal Diversity Cases
36 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2007
This article re-examines, in the context of modern federal court diversity of citizenship litigation, the rule of Bell v. Preferred Life Assurance Society (US Supreme Court 1943) that punitive damage claims can be used to satisfy the jurisdictional amount requirements for federal court diversity jurisdiction. It considers the history of diversity jurisdiction, major criticisms of reliance on punitive damages, the larger debate over justifications for such damages, and the ways in which jurisdiction based on punitive damages disrupts the functioning of federal courts. The article concludes with a recommendation that either the Supreme Court or Congress reverse Bell and prohibit use of punitive damages in measuring the existence of the jurisdictional amount in diversity law suits.
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