Lowe’s Home Centers, the national chain of home improvement stores, is currently facing a personal injury charge, and they are hoping to have the case moved to federal court.
The case pertains to a man who was visiting an Ohio store when he slipped and fell in the parking lot. The case is being heard in the Ohio Circuit Court. The lawsuit filed indicates that the man suffered major injuries to his head, shoulders, and neck. The damage is not entirely reversible and he will suffer long term, if not permanent, effects as a result. His claim states that the company and the property owners were aware of the dangerous conditions and did nothing to protect those visiting the location.
The company is arguing that the case should be tried in a federal court for two reasons:
1. The plaintiff and defendant are located in different states; and
2. The damages exceed $75,000
Similarly, Silver Creek Charleston LLC, owner of a hotel at the center of another lawsuit, is fighting to have their case tried in a federal court citing the same reasons. The case, which also involved head, neck, and spine injuries, was originally filed in the Kanawha County Court in West Virginia.
It is not unusual for defendants – particularly those that are organizations, as opposed to individuals – to request that cases be moved to federal courts. If you are injured at a place of business in St. Petersburg, for instance, but the company is headquartered in New York, for example, it could be argued that the case should be heard at a federal court level because of the differing states of residence.
Why would companies want to change the court? You might not think it would make a difference to their case. After all, both courts would have to remain unbiased and hear the case fairly. In both instances, the amount of claimed damages would be the same. However, there is good reason for the NY-based company to want to move your case farther from your Saint Petersburg residence. The State Court’s voir dire (jury selection) process is far superior. We attorneys get to spend a little time speaking with the potential jurors to help rule out those that are biased one way or the other. In Federal Court, however, the voir dire is usually conducted solely by the judge. Trust me, it is very different.
There have also been notable differences in trends between state and federal court rulings. The federal courts tend to be stricter regarding the rules of discovery, for instance. They tend to award smaller verdicts, and they are more prone to grant motions of dismissal. None of that is good news for the plaintiff.
This is one more reason why it is so important to hire an experienced and trustworthy personal injury attorney. The lawyer will be able to walk you through the entire process and will be better able to prevent the case from reaching the federal court. If you do end up in a federal court, you want to be sure that you are armed with the knowledge and experience of a personal injury attorney who has worked on, and won, many similar cases in the past.
If the negligence of a company, property owner, or their employees, has resulted in your suffering serious, long term injuries, you should speak to a lawyer. You don’t have to pay twice for their bad choices. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can get the monetary damages you need to pay medical bills, cover income losses, and help you continue the recovery process.