United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
DIANNE WILLIAMS, ET AL.
ACE, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
E. FALLON, United States District Judge.
the Court are Plaintiffs' motions to remand. Rec. Docs.
10, 15 & 21. The Court previously addressed this matter
on April 12, 2017, holding the motions in abeyance pending
limited discovery on the amount in controversy. Rec. Doc. 18.
Plaintiffs have refiled another motion to remand, on similar
grounds, to which the Defendants oppose. See Rec.
Doc. 21; Rec Doc. 28. After reviewing the parties' briefs
and the applicable law, the Court now issues this Order and
September 21, 2016, Plaintiffs Dianne Nunez Williams
(“Dianne Willams”), individually and on behalf of
her minor children, Kelvin Williams and Kevinika Williams,
and Kevin Williams, Sr. on behalf of minors Kelvin and
Kevinika Williams, brought this action against Defendants
Shalen Pal (“Pal”), Swift Transportation Company,
Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona (collectively,
“Swift”), and Ace American Insurance Company
(“Ace”) in the 29th Judicial District Court for
the Parish of St. Charles. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 1. Plaintiff
Bernice Williams brought a separate but identical action on
September 2, 2016, in the 29th Judicial District Court for
the Parish of St. Charles. No. 17:177. Rec. Doc.
The cases were consolidated under Docket No. 16-17762 on
March 31, 2017. Rec. Doc. 14. The parties are completely
diverse: Plaintiffs are domiciled in Louisiana, Pal is
domiciled in Washington, Swift Transportation Company and
Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona are domiciled in Arizona,
and Ace is domiciled in Pennsylvania. Rec. Doc. 1 at 3-4. The
amount of controversy is in dispute.
September 6, 2015, Dianne Williams operated a 2007 Kia
Sorento traveling on I-310 northbound. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 2.
Kelvin Williams and Kevinika Williams were passengers in her
vehicle. Id. at 2. Plaintiffs allege that Pal was
operating a 2015 truck or tractor trailer in the course and
scope of his employment with Swift when the Pal's vehicle
struck and collided with Dianne Williams' vehicle on or
near the I-310 ramps allowing access to I-10 eastbound and
westbound. Id. Plaintiffs aver that Pal was insured
by Ace. Id.
maintain that the collision was directly and proximately
caused by Pal's negligent operation of a vehicle, failure
to keep his vehicle under proper control, failure to see what
he should have seen, negligent veering into Dianne
Williams' lane, failure to a avoid a collision and
actually colliding with the side and/or rear of Dianne
Williams' vehicle. Id. at 3-4.
also claim that as a result of this collision they suffered
severe physical pain and mental anguish and required
extensive medical care and treatment. Id. at 5.
Plaintiffs seek damages for past, present and future pain and
suffering, mental anguish, loss of life's pleasures,
disabilities, medical, surgical, and miscellaneous expenses,
wage loss and loss of earning capacity, court costs and
expenses, and property damage, rental expenses, and loss of
use of vehicle. Id.
aver that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applies
to the acts and omission by Pal that led to Plaintiffs'
injuries. Id. at 4. Under the doctrine of respondeat
superior, Plaintiffs maintain that Swift Transportation
Company and Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, are liable
for the negligent acts and omissions of their employee, Pal.
Defendants Ace and Swift timely filed for removal to this
Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441. Rec.
Doc. 1; No. 17:177, Rec. Doc. 1. Defendants filed the removal
actions individually, noting that the state record reflects
that no other parties had been served with the citation and a
copy of the petition. Rec. Doc. 1 at 2-3; No.17:177, Rec.
Doc. 1. Defendants maintain that this Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because this is a civil
action between citizens of different states, where the matter
in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 and is therefore removable
under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Rec. Doc. 1 at 3. Defendants
aver that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 based
on Plaintiffs' claims that they suffered “severe
physical pain and keen mental anguish, ” required
“extensive medical care and treatment, ” were
“disabled in the pursuit of life's pleasures,
” and “may require medical care in the
future.” Id. at 4. Plaintiffs also did not
include a general allegation that their claims exceed or are
less than the requisite amount to establish federal diversity
jurisdiction, nor did they provide any situations or
affidavits limiting any recovery. Id. at 4-5.
Therefore, Defendants maintain that the federal amount in
controversy requirement is met. Id. at 5.
1441 (a) of Title 28 provides that a defendant may remove a
civil action filed in state court if a federal court would
have had original jurisdiction over the issue. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). A federal court has jurisdiction of all civil
actions between citizens of different states in which the
matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). The removing party bears the burden of proving
that a district court has jurisdiction over a matter. See
Jernigan v. Ashland Oil Inc., 989 F.2d 812, 815 (5th
Fifth Circuit precedent, the burden of a defendant removing
based on 28 U.S.C. § 1332 to show that the amount in
controversy is sufficient to support federal jurisdiction
differs depending on whether the plaintiff's complaint
alleges a specific amount of monetary damages, as this figure
will generally control. See Allen v. R & H Oil &
Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335 (5th Cir. 1995). When a
defendant is removing from a Louisiana state court, where the
plaintiff is not permitted to plead a specific amount of
money damages, the removing defendant is required to prove by
a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. Id.; see also
De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1412 (5th Cir.
1995). The defendant does this by either showing that it is
facially apparent that the plaintiff's claims exceed the
jurisdictional amount or by setting forth the facts in
dispute supporting a finding that the jurisdictional amount
is satisfied. Allen, 63 F.3d at 1335.
defendant meets its burden of showing the requisite amount in
controversy, the plaintiff can defeat removal only by
establishing with legal certainty that the claims are for
less than $75, 000.00. De Aguilar, 47 F.3d at
1411-12. To prevent removal, plaintiffs may file a binding
stipulation or affidavit in conjunction with their state
court petition, but it must affirmatively renounce the right
to accept a judgment in excess of $75, 000.00 in order to be
binding. Id. at 1412; Crosby v. Lassen Canyon
Nursery, Inc., No. CV-02-2721, 2003 WL ...