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Robinson v. BASF Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 13, 2017

SULLIVAN ROBINSON
v.
BASF CORPORATION

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         NOTICE

         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.

         ABSOLUTELY NO EXTENSION OF TIME SHALL BE GRANTED TO FILE WRITTEN OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT.

         MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (R. Doc. 6). The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 8).

         I. Background

         On May 12, 2017, Sullivan Robinson (“Plaintiff”) initiated this action against his former employer BASF Corporation (“BASF” or “Defendant”) in the 23rd Judicial District Court, Ascension Parish, Louisiana. (R. Doc. 1-1, “Petition”). Plaintiff alleges that he was employed by “BASF as a MRO warehouse technician in the maintenance department at the BASF facility in Zachary, Louisiana.” (Petition, ¶ 3). Plaintiff further alleges that he “was notified of a buy out by BASF to employees in the maintenance department equal to two (2) weeks for every year of service with BASF and its predecessors in interest, ” which Plaintiff calculates to be “approximately seventy (70) weeks of pay” in his case. (Petition, ¶ 5). Plaintiff further alleges that he was informed by a human resources representative of BASF that he was not eligible for the buy out, and ultimately terminated from employment on May 30, 2014 without a buy out. (Petition, ¶¶ 6-7). Plaintiff, who contends that he was in fact a member of the BASF maintenance department, seeks recovery of a lump sum payment of 70 weeks of pay, as well as penalties and attorney fees pursuant to La. R.S. 23:631 and La. R.S. 23:632. (Petition, ¶¶ 5, 13-14).

         On June 23, 2017, BASF removed the action, asserting that the Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (R. Doc. 1). BASF asserts that there is complete diversity of citizenship because Plaintiff is a citizen of Louisiana and BASF is a citizen of Delaware and New Jersey. (R. Doc. 1 at 4). BASF further asserts that the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied because a calculation of the wages and penalties sought by Plaintiff total $85, 289.60 without consideration of recoverable attorney's fees. (R. Doc. 1 at 6). BASF submitted a declaration from its human resources representative indicating that on December 18, 2012, BASF assigned Plaintiff an hourly wage of $24.23. (R. Doc. 1-2 at 1). Based on this hourly wage, BASF calculates the amount of back pay sought by Plaintiff to be $67, 844.00 ($24.23 x 40 hours x 70 weeks), and the amount of penalties sought by Plaintiff to be $17, 445.60 ($24.23 x 8 hours x 90 days). (R. Doc. 1 at 5-6).

         On July 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand, asserting that the amount in controversy requirement is not satisfied. (R. Doc. 6). Plaintiff submits an “Irrevocable Stipulation of Damages” dated July 24, 2017 providing that he stipulates that he will not accept a judgment, and renounces his right to enforce a judgment, in excess of $75, 000. (R. Doc. 6-2).

         II. Arguments of the Parties

         In support of remand, Plaintiff asserts that the submission of his post-removal stipulation both clarifies that the amount in controversy requirement is not satisfied and establishes “with legal certainty” that the amount in controversy is not satisfied. (R. Doc. 6-1 at 3-4).

         In opposition, BASF argues that it has met its burden of establishing that the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied based on its calculations and supporting declaration submitted with the Notice of Removal. (R. Doc. 8 at 4). BASF further argues that Plaintiff cannot establish that he is legally certain to recover less than $75, 000 because the stipulation was submitted post-removal and the ...


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