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Brumfield v. Farmers Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 15, 2017

WANDA BRUMFIELD
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.

         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

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion to Remand (R. Doc. 31) filed on November 9, 2017.

         I. Background

         On or about July 15, 2016, Wanda Brumfield (“Plaintiff”) filed this action in the 19th Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, naming as defendants Farmers Insurance Company, Randy Gantt, and Travelers Insurance Company. (R. Doc. 1-6 at 1-3). Plaintiff alleges that she sustained personal injuries as a result of an automobile accident with Mr. Gantt, including medical expenses; physical pain and suffering; disability, scarring, and disfigurement; mental anguish and emotional trauma; and loss of enjoyment of life. (R. Doc. 1-6 at 2). Plaintiff does not, however, identify any specific injuries sustained in her Petition. Furthermore, Plaintiff specifically states in the Petition that she did “not believe” at the time of filing that her damages exceeded the amount required for a jury trial in Louisiana state court. (R. Doc. 1-6 at 3).

         On October 17, 2016, Travelers removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (R. Doc. 1). With regard to the amount in controversy requirement, Travelers states that Plaintiff's counsel represented in a telephone conference prior to removal that Plaintiff “suffered from significant prior injuries that may have been aggravated in the subject accident and her damages may exceed $75, 000, ” and that Plaintiff refused to sign a pre-removal stipulation that the amount in controversy requirement to sustain diversity jurisdiction was not satisfied. (R. Doc. 1 at 3-4). The Notice of Removal did not provide any additional evidence, such as incurred medical expenses, indicating that the amount in controversy requirement was satisfied at the time of removal.

         On June 22, 2017, Travelers was dismissed from the action with prejudice. (R. Doc. 30).

         On November 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant unopposed motion to remand. (R. Doc. 31). Attached to the motion is Plaintiff's stipulation that “the value of her claim in this matter does not exceed the sum of $75, 000.00, exclusive of legal interest and costs.” (R. Doc. 31-1).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A defendant may remove “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). When original jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, the cause of action must be between “citizens of different States” and the amount in controversy must exceed the “sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)-(a)(1). Subject matter jurisdiction must exist at the time of removal to federal court, based on the facts and allegations contained in the complaint. St. Paul Reinsurance Co., Ltd. v. Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1253 (5th Cir. 1998) (“jurisdictional facts must be judged as of the time the complaint is filed”). Remand is proper if at any time the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         If removal is sought on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, then “the sum demanded in good faith in the initial pleading shall be deemed to be the amount in controversy.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2). If, however, the “State practice . . . permits the recovery of damages in excess of the amount demanded, ” removal is proper “if the district court finds, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75, 000].” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(A)(ii)-(B). In Louisiana state court, plaintiffs are generally prohibited from alleging a specific monetary amount of damages sought in their ...


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