New Mexico personal injury lawsuits often proceed in New Mexico’s state courts. A personal injury lawsuit can be removed from state court to federal court if it meets criteria set forth by federal law for removal. It is also possible, in some instances, to remand a case that was filed in state court and removed to federal court back to state court.
A recent ruling by the Chief District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico denied the plaintiff’s motion to remand a case that had been filed in state court and removed to this federal trial court. Allegedly the plaintiff was injured after he slipped on a puddle of oil in the defendant’s drive-in restaurant and fell. Before bringing a lawsuit the plaintiff tried to resolve the case on an out-of-court basis. Through counsel, he sent a demand letter to the defendant. The demand letter detailed the plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages; they included medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. According to the court, the plaintiff’s demand letter estimated the plaintiff’s damages to be $37,659 on the low end and $157,659 on the high end. The plaintiff also sought exemplary (i.e. punitive) damages.
According to the court, the plaintiff offered to settle his claims for $75,000 and the defendant countered with a settlement offer of $5,000. The parties were unable to bridge the gap between their settlement offers and the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in state court. The defendant reacted by removing the lawsuit to federal court. The plaintiff then filed a motion seeking to remand the case to state court, on the basis that the amount in controversy was $20,000.