There are few orthodoxies more widely adhered to in U.S. civil litigation than plaintiffs’ preference for state courts and defendants’ preference for federal courts (plaintiffs’ distaste for arbitration is another similar orthodoxy).
As a consequence, plaintiffs often draft complaints in such a way as to preclude the exercise of a federal court’s jurisdiction. Defendants, whenever possible, seek to have the court carve up plaintiffs’ complaints to make them amenable to federal jurisdiction (by, for example, suggesting the plaintiff engaged in “fraudulent joinder” and added a defendant solely to block federal “diversity jurisdiction”).
Plaintiff Laura Maxwell brought suit as Trustee for the heirs and next of kin of an infant who allegedly smothered as a result of crib products purchased at Target. Her case was brought in state court, removed by defendants to federal court, and has now been sent back to state court, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank having concluded that defendant Target is “not merely a nominal defendant” but, rather, faces real, if narrow, potential liability.