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Hopkins v. Crown Associates, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 31, 2018

ERIC HOPKINS
v.
CROWN ASSOCIATES, LLC, ET AL.

          NOTICE AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Eric Hopkins (“Plaintiff”), filed a Petition for Damages (the “Petition”) in state court for damages allegedly arising out of injuries Plaintiff sustained in a May 12, 2017 automobile accident. On May 30, 2018, defendant, Crown Associates, LLC (“Crown”) filed a Notice of Removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on the assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and the parties are completely diverse.[1] For the reasons set forth herein, the Notice of Removal fails to adequately allege the citizenship of Crown and fails to adequately establish that the amount in controversy required for the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is satisfied.

         Crown alleges that it “is, and was at the time the state action was commenced, a Limited Liability Company with two members, both of whom are residents of the State of Ohio. Therefore, Crown Associates, LLC is a citizen of Ohio for purposes of determining diversity….”[2] Based on this allegation, Crown appears to recognize that the citizenship of a limited liability company is determined by the citizenship of each of the members.[3] However, in order to allege the citizenship of an individual, that individual's domicile must be alleged.[4] Here, Crown has only alleged the residency of its two members. Accordingly, the allegations of citizenship with respect to Crown are insufficient.[5]

         Per the Petition, Plaintiff alleges that he “sustained damages including, but not limited to, pain and suffering, mental anguish and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life and any and all other damages that may be proven at the trial of this matter.”[6] Crown asserts that the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is met based on Plaintiff's list of alleged damages as well as Plaintiff's failure “to include a general allegation that Plaintiff's claims are less than the required jurisdictional amount for federal jurisdiction.”[7]

         “Courts have routinely held that pleading general categories of damages, such as ‘pain and suffering, disability, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical expenses, etc., ' without any indication of the amount of the damages sought, does not provide sufficient information for the removing defendant to meet his burden of proving that the amount in controversy is satisfied under the ‘facially apparent' test.”[8] “When…the petition is vague regarding the types of injuries incurred and any future problems resulting from the incident, ‘the court must conclude that it was not ‘facially apparent' that the amount of damages would exceed $75, 000.'”[9] Further, this court has held that “[f]ailure to include an allegation pursuant to article 893(A)(1) is a factor the Court must consider, but alone it is not enough to establish that the jurisdictional amount is satisfied.”[10]

         Here, neither the Petition nor the Notice of Removal provide any information regarding Plaintiff's specific injuries, amount of medical expenses, or claimed lost wages. There are no verified discovery responses (such as requests for admission) or pre-removal settlement demands. Based on the information asserted in the Notice of Removal, the court sua sponte raises the issue of whether it may exercise diversity jurisdiction in this matter, specifically, whether the amount in controversy requirement has been met.

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Crown Associates, LLC shall file a Motion to Substitute the Notice of Removal with a comprehensive Notice of Removal that adequately alleges the citizenship of Crown Associates, LLC. Crown Associates, LLC shall have seven (7) days from this Notice and Order to file the Motion to Substitute. No. further leave of court is required to file the Motion to Substitute.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Crown Associates, LLC shall file a memorandum and supporting evidence concerning whether the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is met, within ten (10) days of this Notice and Order.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall file either: (1) a memorandum and supporting evidence concerning whether the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is met; or (2) a Motion to Remand within ten (10) days after the filing of the Defendant's memorandum regarding subject matter jurisdiction.

         The case will be allowed to proceed if jurisdiction is adequately established.

---------

Notes:

[1] R. Doc. 1.

[2] R. Doc. 1, ¶ 5.


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