September 27, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:12-cv-03207 -
Manish S. Shah, Judge.
Bauer, Rovner, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
ROVNER, Circuit Judge.
Parker was injured when a sliding glass door in the bathroom
of her Four Seasons Hotel room shattered. The hotel admitted
negligence and a jury awarded Parker $20, 000 in compensatory
damages, which was reduced to $12, 000 after a motion for
set-off was granted. The district court declined Parker's
request to put the question of punitive damages to the jury,
finding her evidence insufficient as a matter of law. We
reverse and remand for further proceedings on the question of
Seasons asserts that the federal courts lack jurisdiction
over this diversity suit because the amount in controversy
does not exceed $75, 000, citing the ultimate award of $12,
000. But the requirements for diversity jurisdiction
(including the amount in controversy) must be satisfied only
at the time the suit is filed. Rosado v. Wyman, 397
U.S. 397, 405 n.6 (1970) (noting the well-settled rule that a
federal court does not lose jurisdiction over a diversity
action which was well founded at the outset even though one
of the parties may later change domicile or the amount
recovered falls short of the statutory threshold); St.
Paul Mercury Indent. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283,
289-90 (1938) ("Events occurring subsequent to the
institution of suit which reduce the amount recoverable below
the statutory limit do not oust jurisdiction."). Four
Seasons does not deny that, when Parker filed her complaint,
she brought claims in apparent good faith for compensatory
and punitive damages exceeding $150, 000. Dart Cherokee
Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553 (2014)
("When a plaintiff invokes federal-court jurisdiction,
the plaintiff's amount-in-controversy allegation is
accepted if made in good faith."); Meridian Sec.
Ins. Co. v. Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536, 541 (7th Cir. 2006)
(once the facts supporting the amount in controversy have
been established, the proponent's estimate of the
claim's value must be accepted unless there is legal
certainty that the controversy's value is below the
threshold). Parker's claimed damages are well in excess
of the requisite amount, and federal jurisdiction is secure.
to the facts, which we will simplify to focus on the issue at
hand. Parker and her sister, Cindy Schiavon, checked into the
Four Seasons on April 27, 2007, requesting adjoining rooms.
After a short delay at the desk, Parker was assigned to room
3627 and her sister was given the room next door. In
Parker's room, a sliding glass door separated the shower
area from the vanity area. On the day after check-in, Parker took
a shower and attempted to exit the shower area by opening the
glass door. As she slid the door, it exploded suddenly,
raining shards of glass onto her naked body and causing her
injuries. Parker's sister summoned help from the front
desk. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Gartin, an engineer employed
by the hotel, arrived to investigate the incident. According
to Schiavon's affidavit, Gartin:
immediately looked up at the overhead track and said:
"Looks like the stopper moved again!" ... He
explained that the hotel had recently undergone renovations,
and that a "bunch" of the newly installed sliding
glass doors had exploded because the overhead track stoppers
were not working properly. That allowed the door-handles to
crash into the walls and cause the glass doors to explode.
This was one of the rooms on the "do not sell"
list. You might want to check yours.
R. 101-7, at 2. Taking Gartin's advice, Schiavon
checked the sliding door in her bathroom in the adjoining
room and determined that it suffered from the same defect.
also uncovered evidence suggesting that the sliding door in
her room had shattered before the incident that caused her
injury, and that the door had been replaced. An October 2007
email between third party contractors working on door
breakage issues revealed that several rooms configured in the
same manner as Parker's room had similar issues:
Here is an update from Contract Mirror & Supply on the
shower doors at the Four Seasons. CMS installed 150 tub
doors, 136 shower doors, and 136 sliding barn doors during
the renovation. We have had one shower door break (room 4401)
and five sliding glass barn doors break (rooms 3427, 3527,
3627 twice, and 4419). The cause of the shower door breakage
was identified and all of the shower doors were inspected to
be sure that there were no additional problems. Since the X27
rooms represent 80% of the barn door failures these rooms
were examined to identify what was different in these rooms
that may have caused the problems. The thicker wall
construction in this room leaves less clearance for the door
( Vi" clearance versus 1" in other
rooms) and the tight tolerance may contribute to the breakage
because the door may deflect up to Vi" if
someone pulls on the door while operating it which would
allow the corner of the glass to hit the ...