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Guidry v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.

United States District Court, Middle District of Louisiana

May 12, 2015

JAMES GUIDRY
v.
MURPHY OIL USA, INC., ET AL.

SUA SPONTE ORDER

BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE

The Court sua sponte raises the question of subject matter jurisdiction, in connection with the amount in controversy requirement forming the basis for removal of the instant case from the 23rd Judicial District Court, Parish of Ascension, Louisiana. The notice of removal invoked general diversity jurisdiction, as described in 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Doc. 1 at p. 6).[1]

The Court ordinarily consults the state court petition to determine the amount in controversy. St. Paul Reinsurance Co., Ltd. v. Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1253 (5th Cir. 1998). However, Louisiana prohibits plaintiffs from petitioning for a specific monetary amount. See La. C.C.P. art. 893(A)(1). Therefore, where, as here, the petition does not include a specific monetary demand, the removing party must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. See De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1412 (5th Cir. 1995). This requirement is met if (1) it is apparent from the face of the petition that the claims are likely to exceed $75, 000, or, alternatively, (2) the defendant sets forth “summary judgment type evidence” of facts in controversy that support a finding of the requisite amount. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002); Simon v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 193 F.3d 848, 850 (5th Cir. 1999); Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335 (5th Cir. 1995).

In their notice of removal, Defendants set forth summary judgment type evidence supporting a finding of the threshold amount in controversy. Defendants noted that they possess additional evidence-including records from Plaintiff Guidry’s treating physicians-which they are willing to produce under proper protective order, should the Court require such production. (Doc. 1 at p. 4 n.1).

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, if they wish to show that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper, Defendants Murphy Oil USA, Inc. and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company shall, on or before May 21, 2015, file into the record supplementary documentation which would support a finding of the requisite amount in controversy. If any sensitive information is to be filed-e.g., medical information-Defendants may file under seal.


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