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Burgo v. Burgo

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana

November 12, 2014

DONALD CHRISTOPHER BURGO,
v.
JAMES S. BURGO, SUCCESSION, ET AL

MEMORANDUM RULING OF REMAND

C. MICHAEL HILL, Magistrate Judge.

The record reveals that James Samuel Burgo died on February 18, 2012. Succession proceedings were commenced in the Sixteenth Judicial District Court for St. Mary Parish, Louisiana entitled "Succession of James S. Burgo", bearing docket number 19379. [rec. doc. 1-2, pg. 20-22]. On June 6, 2012, a Judgment of Possession was issued, disposing of the decedent's property in accordance with his Last Will and Testament, to his surviving spouse, Lois Sampey Burgo, who is a citizen of Louisiana. [rec. doc. 1-1, pgs. 8-11, and 5-7].

On October 13, 2014, Donald Christopher Burgo ("Burgo"), a citizen of Louisiana and an inmate incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary who claims to be the adopted son of the decedent, James Samuel Burgo, removed the entire succession action to this Court, seeking to annul the Judgment of Possession.[1] [ See rec. doc. 5]. He asserts no specific grounds for the exercise of this Court's jurisdiction. However, Burgo does cite various federal criminal laws and additionally alleges that the amount in dispute is greater than $75, 000.00. [ See rec. doc. 5, pg. 3-4].

Removal and Jurisdiction

"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. We must presume that a suit lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction rests on the party seeking the federal forum." Howery v. Allstate, Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912 (5th Cir. 2001). Moreover, as a Court of limited jurisdiction, this Court is obligated to examine the basis of its own jurisdiction sua sponte, and accordingly, remand any action where federal jurisdiction is lacking. Washington v. Riley, 2012 WL 2339116, *2 (W.D. La. 6/18/2012) citing Broussard v. Multi-Chem Group, LLC, 2012 WL 1492855, *1 (W.D. La. 2012) citing Giannakos v. M/V Bravo Trader, 762 F.2d 1295, 1297 (5th Cir. 1985), Mergist v. Multi-Chem Group, L.L.C., 2012 WL 1493750, *1 (W.D. La. 2012). and Thompson v. Betts, 754 F.2d 1243, 1245 (5th Cir. 1985).

Diversity Jurisdiction

The removal statute for diversity cases provides in pertinent part:

A civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of this title may not be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.

28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2).

In cases which are removed based on diversity, it is axiomatic that no defendant may be a citizen of the forum state. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b); Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 117 S.Ct. 467, 469, 473 (1996); Washington v. Riley, 2012 WL 2339116 at *2. Thus, when there is a single defendant who is a citizen of the forum state present, removal on the basis of diversity jurisdiction is barred. Id. Similarly, in a case with multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants complete diversity is required. Id .; Exxon v. Allapattah, 125 S.Ct. 2611, 2617 (2005). Moreover, in diversity cases, a single non-diverse party "destroys original jurisdiction with respect to all claims" in the action. Id. at 2618.

In this succession action, it is clear that complete diversity is lacking. The estate of James Samuel Burgo is the subject of a Louisiana succession proceeding in which the surviving spouse, Lois Sampey Burgo, who has been granted possession of the decedent's property, and complaining heir, Burgo, are both citizens of Louisiana.

Federal Question Jurisdiction

Federal question jurisdiction is likewise lacking. The removal statute for federal question cases provides in pertinent part:

... any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original ...

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