Summary of Facts on Federal Diversity Cases

GGD-78-38: Published: Feb 28, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 28, 1978.

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Diversity jurisdiction refers to the Federal court's jurisdiction over cases involving a controversy between citizens of different States or between citizens of a State and of a foreign nation. A plaintiff may initiate a civil suit in either a State or Federal court if certain requirements are met, and a defendant being sued in a State court other than one in his home State may remove the action to the Federal court in the State where the action was initiated. Trial lawyers favor Federal courts over State courts in diversity cases because of fears that the State courts may be prejudiced against nonresidents and because of beliefs that the cases are Federal in nature, Federal court systems are superior, and State dockets are more crowded. Of 18 attorneys questioned concerning the objectivity of State courts, the following were expressed: six thought the State court was adequate, one believed there was prejudice, and seven thought there might be prejudice. Data are not available to determine whether State court systems can handle additional diversity cases that would result from elimination or restriction of Federal jurisdiction, but an ongoing research project may provide information in this area.

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