St. Paul Mercury test explained

Students understand the “good faith” part of the SPM test. But they get confused about the “legal certainty” part of the analysis.


  • Certainty of satisfying AIC?
  • Certainty of not satisfying AIC?

It’s the latter.

See St. Paul Mercury:

The rule governing dismissal for want of jurisdiction in cases brought in the federal court is that, unless the law gives a different rule, the sum claimed by the plaintiff controls if the claim is apparently made in good faith. It must appear to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less than the jurisdictional amount to justify dismissal. The inability of plaintiff to recover an amount adequate to give the court jurisdiction does not show his bad faith or oust the jurisdiction.

So . . . .

It doesn’t have to be certain that P will get > $75K.

It’s that the court won’t dismiss unless the court is certain that P cannot get > $75.

Put differently, this is akin to a “possibility” being enough.  Put differently, the amount in controversy is met so long as it appears that the plaintiff has pleaded in good faith and that it is possible for a reasonable jury to award the plaintiff more than $75,000.

Presented in review 11/23/15. Posted same day.