United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
D. ENGELHARDT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc. 8), filed
by Plaintiff Janessa Guidry, to which Defendants USAA General
Indemnity Company and Jessee Forsyth have filed a response in
opposition. See Rec. Doc. 9. Moreover, Defendants
have filed a supplemental memorandum relevant to the amount
in controversy in the instant matter. (Rec. Doc. 12). Having
carefully considered the supporting and opposing submissions,
the record, and the applicable law, IT IS
ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED,
and this matter be REMANDED to the Twenty
Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson,
State of Louisiana, for the reasons stated herein.
matter arises out of Plaintiff Janessa Guidry's
(“Guidry”) personal injuries that she allegedly
sustained as a result of an automobile accident that occurred
on August 31, 2016. See Rec. Doc. 8-1 at p. 1.
Guidry filed a Petition for Damages in the Twenty Fourth
Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish on May 23, 2017,
alleging that the vehicle operated by Defendant Jessee
Forsyth (“Forsyth”) collided with the rear of the
passenger side of her vehicle, “which was in the proper
and favored lane of travel.” (Rec. Doc. 1-2 at p. 2).
As a result of the accident, Guidry asserts that she
sustained “injuries to her body and mind including,
without limitation, pain in her back and head, together with
past and future expenses for medical care; including travel
to and from medical providers; past and future loss of
earnings, ” which allows her to recover reasonable
damages from Defendants. Id.
August 24, 2017, Forsyth removed the instant matter to this
Court, with the consent of Defendant USAA General Indemnity
Company (“USAA”), on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Rec.
Doc. 1 at p. 2. Specifically, Forsyth asserts that he is a
citizen of the state of Arkansas, Guidry is a citizen of the
state of Louisiana, and USAA is a foreign corporation
“domiciled and with its principal place of business in
Texas.” Id. at p. 1. Moreover, Forsyth
contends that it is facially apparent from Guidry's
Complaint that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.
Id. at p. 2.
response to the Notice of Removal, Guidry filed this Motion
to Remand. See Rec. Doc. 8. Guidry specifically
argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
the instant matter because Defendants have failed to meet
their burden in proving that Forsyth is domiciled in Arkansas
and that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional
threshold. (Rec. Doc. 8-1 at p. 2-5). In opposition to the
motion to remand, Defendants contend that they have
established that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000.00, and they have met their burden in establishing that
Forsyth is a citizen of the state of Arkansas. (Rec. Doc. 9).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
to 28 U.S.C. §1441(a), a civil action that was brought
in a state court of which the United States district courts
have original jurisdiction may be removed by the defendant(s)
to the United States district court for the district and
division embracing the location where such action is pending.
See 28 U.S.C. §1441(a). In order for a court to
have original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1332,
complete diversity must exist between the plaintiff(s) and
all properly joined defendants, and the amount in controversy
must exceed $75, 000.00. See 28 U.S.C. §1332.
Moreover, to remove a case on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, “the diverse defendant must demonstrate
that all of the prerequisites of diversity jurisdiction
contained in 28 U.S.C. §1332 are satisfied.”
Smallwood v. Ill. Cent. R.R. Co., 385 F.3d 568, 572
(5th Cir. 2004). The removing party must prove that federal
jurisdiction exists by a preponderance of the evidence.
Young v. United States, 727 F.3d 444, 446 (5th Cir.
2013). All ambiguities are construed against removal.
Butler v. Polk, 592 F.2d 1293, 1296 (5th Cir. 1979).
regard to the diversity of citizenship, “[c]omplete
diversity exists between the parties when the citizenship of
every plaintiff is diverse from the citizenship of every
defendant. See Harrison v. Prather, 404 F.2d 267,
272 (5th Cir. 1968); Carden v. Arkoma Assoc., 494
U.S. 185, 187, 110 S.Ct. 1015, 1016-1017, 108 L.Ed.2d 157
(1990) (diversity jurisdiction is complete only if there is
no plaintiff and no defendant who are citizens of the same
state). With few exceptions, state citizenship is regarded as
synonymous with domicile for purposes of diversity. Coury
v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 249 (5th Cir. 1996). “A
person's domicile persists until a new one is acquired or
it is clearly abandoned.” Id. at 250
(citing Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747 (9th Cir.1986);
Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d 1396 (5th Cir.) cert.
denied, 419 U.S. 842, 95 S.Ct. 74, 42 L.Ed.2d 70
order to determine a person's domicile, the court will
evaluate several factors, including “the places where
the litigant exercises civil and political rights, pays
taxes, owns real and personal property, has driver's and
other licenses, maintains bank accounts, belongs to clubs and
churches, has places of business or employment, and maintains
a home for his family.” Id. at 251 (citing
Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747 (9th Cir. 1986); Hendry v.
Masonite Corp., 455 F.2d 955 (5th Cir.) cert.
denied, 409 U.S. 1023, 93 S.Ct. 464, 34 L.Ed.2d 315
(1972); 1 J. Moore, Moore's Federal Practice § 0.74
[3.-3] n. 18 (1996) (citing authorities)). The court should
look to all evidence that demonstrates a party's
intentions to establish a domicile, with no single factor
being determinative. Id. Moreover, a party's
statement of intent is a relevant factor in determining
domicile, “but it is entitled to little weight if it
conflicts with the objective facts.” Id.
(citing Freeman v. Northwest Acceptance Corp., 754
F.2d 553, 556 (5th Cir. 1985); Hendry v. Masonite
Corp., 455 F.2d 955, 956 (5th Cir.) cert.
denied, 409 U.S. 1023, 93 S.Ct. 464, 34 L.Ed.2d 315
respect to Forsyth's domicile, Guidry argues that
Defendants have not provided the Court with any information
that establishes that he is domiciled in Arkansas. (Rec. Doc.
8-1 at p. 5). Specifically, Guidry contends that
“Defendants only provided a police report to establish
domicile, not his permanent address, property ownership,
current address, address on the date of the accident, bank
accounts, employment, or even a copy of his driver's
license.” Id. In response, Defendants first
argue that although Guidry's Petition for Damages states
that Forsyth is a resident and citizen of Jefferson Parish,
“these bare allegations are flatly contradicted by
plaintiff's own actions and admissions in the
record.” (Rec. Doc. 9 at p. 6). Moreover, Defendants
argue that “plaintiff plainly repudiated her prior
allegation of Louisiana citizenship when she filed pleadings
in state court invoking Louisiana's long-arm and
non-resident motorist statutes.” Id. However,
the burden is on Forsyth to establish his domicile and that
there is complete diversity of citizenship between the
parties. See Winters v. Diamond Shamrock Chem. Co.,
149 F.3d 387, 397 (5th Cir. 1998) (“We initially note
that when faced with a motion to remand, it is the
defendant's burden to establish the existence of federal
jurisdiction over the controversy.”).
further support of their argument that Forsyth maintains a
domicile in Arkansas, Defendants contend that in addition to
the police report listing Forsyth's address in Arkansas,
The vehicle he was driving at the time was registered and
licensed in Arkansas, as documented in the police report. The
owner of the vehicle he was driving, Jenna Croft, is listed
in the report as living in Arkansas. The insurance policy
under which plaintiff seeks coverage for Forsyth was issued
in Arkansas, and the vehicle in question is principally
garaged in Arkansas. Even plaintiffs own documents show six
out-of-state addresses for ...