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Carr v. Mayclin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

September 19, 2018

MICHAEL CARR
v.
CHRISTOPHER D. MAYCLIN, ET AL

          DOUGHTY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Introduction

         Michael Carr (“Plaintiff”) filed a single petition suit in state court for damages caused by two car accidents in which he was involved. The defendants associated with the first accident removed the case to federal court based on an assertion of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand (Doc. 13) on the grounds the removing defendants did not satisfy their burden of establishing that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.

         The removing defendants responded to the motion, and they filed a separate Motion to Sever (Doc. 10) that asked that the claims against the defendants associated with the second accident (one of whom is not diverse from Plaintiff) be severed and remanded on the grounds that those defendants were improperly joined as a matter of procedural law. After review, the undersigned concludes that the removing defendants have not satisfied their burden with respect to the amount in controversy and recommends, for the reasons that follow, that the case be remanded to state court. It is not necessary to address the Motion to Sever.

         Removing Party's Burden

         The federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions where the parties are citizens of different states and the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Subject to some exceptions, a civil action brought in state court over which the federal courts have original jurisdiction may be removed by the defendants.' 1441(a). The notice of removal must contain a statement of the grounds for removal.' 1446(a).

         A notice of removal may assert the amount in controversy if the plaintiff's initial pleading seeks a money judgment but state practice does not permit demand for a specific sum. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(A)(ii). Removal of such an action is proper on the basis of an amount in controversy asserted in the notice of removal “if the district court finds, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds” $75, 000 exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. §' 1446(c)(2)(B) and 1332(a). The burden is on the removing party to show that removal is proper, and any doubts should be resolved against federal jurisdiction. Vantage Drilling Co. v. Hsin-Chi Su, 741 F.3rd 535, 537 (5th Cir. 2014).

         Plaintiff's petition, in accordance with Louisiana law, did not set forth a demand for a specific amount of damages. Defendants asserted in their notice of removal that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Defendants may satisfy their burden on that issue by: (1) demonstrating that it is “facially apparent” that the claims are likely above $75, 000, or (2) setting forth the facts in controversy-in the notice of removal or an affidavit-that support a finding of the requisite amount. Luckett v. Delta Airlines, 171 F.3d 295, 298 (5th Cir. 1999); Simon v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 193 F.3d 848 (5th Cir. 1999). Defendants in this case rely primarily on the facially apparent standard.

         Facts in the Petition

         Plaintiff alleges in his state court petition that he was operating his vehicle on I-220, driving in the left lane near the Cross Lake Bridge in Shreveport, prior to an area where road construction was being performed. Without warning, a large commercial truck (18-wheeler) operated by Christopher Mayclin and owned by Crete Carrier Corp. “swerved from the right land into the left lane, smashing into [Plaintiff's] vehicle.” Petition, ¶¶ 4-5.

         Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of the incident, he “suffered serious, painful and permanent bodily injuries including lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spinal injuries, radiating pain, shoulder pain, and emotional distress, for which he is entitled to be fully and justly compensated” in several categories. The categories listed are the standard past and future medical expenses, past and future physical pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings and earning capacity, and loss of future earnings. ¶ 11. The petition does not offer any additional facts regarding the nature of the injuries, what medical care might have been required, or the extent of damages.

         Plaintiff alleges in his petition that, less than three weeks later, he was again operating his vehicle on I-220 when he had to stop because the traffic ahead of him was stopped. Two other vehicles came to a complete stop behind. Mason Hollis, however, was not able to stop his vehicle, and he struck the two stopped vehicles, which caused the vehicle directly behind Plaintiff to impact Plaintiff's vehicle. ¶¶ 15-16. Plaintiff does not allege any particular injuries or damages associated with this accident other than to allege that, as a result of the second collision, his “injuries and damages as stated above were aggravated.” ¶ 17.

         Other Facts ...


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