Determination of Federal Jurisdictional Amount in Suits on Unliquidated Claims

Hoping to keep federal court dockets free of petty claims and thereby to reduce the delay in bringing to trial controversies involving more substantial sums, Congress has given United States district courts jurisdiction of many civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States and most disputes between parties of diverse citizenship only when the alleged right forming the basis of a claimant’s cause of action can be valued at more than ten thousand dollars. The value of a particular claim is determined by reference to those portions of its proponent’s pleading which tend to support his prayer for relief. Neither the existence of a valid defense to the claim, even if it is obvious from the face of the proponent’s own pleading, nor an ultimate recovery of less than ten thousand dollars has any significance in testing a court’s jurisdiction.