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Alden v. Eason

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 19, 2017

WILLIAM W. ALDEN, M.D.
v.
JOHN K. EASON, ESQ.

         SECTION "F"

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to remand. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         Background

         This defamation case, by a physician, arises out of a YouTube video posted online by a law professor, in which the professor states that the physician was a porn actor when he was a student at Princeton University and that the physician had been blacklisted by a medical association.

         John Eason, a law professor and an attorney, and his wife, Janelle Eason, sold their house located on the Northshore of New Orleans to Ashley Steele, who is married to William Alden, M.D. Sometime after the sale, Ms. Steele allegedly discovered numerous redhibitory defects in the house. As a result, Ms. Steele sued the Easons in civil district court in New Orleans. Shortly after the redhibition suit was filed in 2014, Mr. Eason and his wife wrote a letter to Dr. Alden and Ms. Steele.

         In the letter, the Easons demanded that the lawsuit be immediately dismissed and that Dr. Alden pay $9, 350 or that “consequences would follow.” When neither demand was met, Mr. Eason posted a video of himself on YouTube in which he spoke about Dr. Alden's character and reputation.

         On July 27, 2016, Dr. Alden sued Mr. Eason in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. On May 4, 2017, Mr. Eason timely removed the suit to this Court, invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction. Because it is common for prospective patients to Google search a doctor's name before seeking treatment, Dr. Alden alleges that he suffered harm to his personal and professional reputation, loss of business income, and loss of the respect of patients who left his practice after viewing the video. Dr. Alden now requests that the Court remand his defamation lawsuit to state court.

         I.

         A.

         Although the plaintiff challenges removal in this case, the removing defendant carries the burden of showing the propriety of this Court's removal jurisdiction. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Jernigan v. Ashland Oil, Inc., 989 F.2d 812, 815 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 868 (1993). Remand is proper if at any time the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Given the significant federalism concerns implicated by removal, the removal statute is strictly construed “and any doubt as to the propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of remand.” Gutierrez v. Flores, 543 F.3d 248, 251 (5th Cir. 2008)(citation omitted); Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 491 F.3d 278, 281-82 (5th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted).

         B.

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only the authority granted by the United States Constitution and conferred by the United States Congress. Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001). A defendant may generally remove a civil action filed in state court if the federal court has original jurisdiction over the case - that is, if the plaintiff could have brought the action in federal court from the outset. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). To exercise diversity jurisdiction, complete diversity must exist between the plaintiffs and all of the properly joined defendants, and the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The only dispute here is whether or not the amount-in-controversy requirement is met.

         To determine whether it has jurisdiction, the Court must consider the allegations in the state court petition as they existed at the time of removal. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Cavallini v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 44 F.3d 256, 264 (5th Cir. 1995). Louisiana law requires that a plaintiff include ...


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