In Helton v. Lelion, a couple sued a driver who was operating a vehicle in which a tire became loose and hit their vehicle. The couple initially filed a negligence lawsuit in Wolfe County Circuit Court against the driver who lost her tire. The allegedly negligent motorist with the loose tire apparently did not carry liability insurance when the accident occurred. Because of this, the injured driver also demanded the full policy limits of her uninsured motorist coverage from her own auto insurer, as well as attorneys’ fees and interest.
The defendants removed the uninsured motorist case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington based on diversity of citizenship. Under 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(a), a federal court may exercise such jurisdiction when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties are citizens of different states. In response, the couple filed a motion to remand the case back to a Kentucky state court. Although the plaintiffs agreed that the parties were diverse, they claimed that federal jurisdiction was improper because the amount in controversy did not exceed the statutory minimum. The injured driver also signed a stipulation that the entirety of the damages she sought were less than $75,000.