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Friday, January 02, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decided one Indiana case Dec. 31st

In State Farm Life Ins. v. Troy Jonas, et al (SD Ind., Lawrence), a 7-page opinion, Judge Easterbrook concludes:

Several times the Supreme Court has encountered the contention that a dispute about the allocation of costs, attor neys’ fees, or other post-­filing expenses justifies adjudication of a suit that is otherwise not within federal jurisdiction. For example, in Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54 (1986), an inter venor who had been ordered to pay the prevailing side’s le gal fees contended that this kept the controversy alive, even though the only litigants with standing had dropped out, since if the judgment were reversed on the merits the award of fees would fall with it. The Justices held, however, that awards of legal fees and other post-­filing procedural events could not supply a case or controversy. 476 U.S. at 68–71. The Court followed up by holding that a litigant cannot sidestep the need for a controversy on the merits by bringing suit for the costs of bringing suit. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Bet ter Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 107 (1998). See also Lewis v. Con tinental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472 (1990).

When this litigation began, there was no justiciable con troversy. The current disputes about the rate of interest and whether State Farm must pay the attorneys’ fees that Troy has incurred in this litigation do not retroactively create ju risdiction. Troy must turn to state court in order to seek any further award—though we hope that what we have said in this opinion will enable the parties to settle.

The judgment of the district court is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 2, 2015 10:16 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions