United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PATRICK J. HANNA, MAG. JUDGE.
L. MELANCON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are the parties' response memorandums, [Rec.
Doc. 16, filed by the defendant on August 31, 2018; and Rec.
Doc. 20, filed by the plaintiff on September 7, 2018], to the
Court's Sua Sponte Jurisdictional Briefing
Order, [Rec. Doc. 11, August 10, 2018], which requested that
the parties address whether the Court has federal question
jurisdiction or federal diversity jurisdiction over this
case, and the plaitniff's Motion for Leave to File
Amended Complaint. [Rec. Doc. 14, filed August 31, 2018]. For
the reasons that follow, the Court finds that it does have
Union Pacific Railroad Co., owns a railroad line that crosses
plaintiff's, City of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana's,
municipal boundaries. Plaintiff alleges that defendant is
“obstructing, retarding or interfering” with the
“proper and natural drainage” of the nearby lands
within the City of Breaux Bridge. [R. Doc. 1.1 at 5, filed
July 3, 2018]. Plaintiff filed suit in the Sixteenth Judicial
District Court for the State of Louisiana under La. R.S.
§ 45:457 alleging that the defendant had an
obligation to start “constructing [. . .]
culverts and drains” under the roadbeds that
were allegedly obstructing the “proper and natural
drainage” of the lands of properties adjacent to the
defendant's railway because the railway culvert crossing
does not adequately drain the land of the properties. [Rec.
Doc. 1.1 at 5, filed July 3, 2018].
removed the case to this Court claiming that the Louisiana
statute is completely preempted by 49 U.S.C. Section 10501(b)
of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act
(“ICCTA”). [Rec. Doc. 1, filed July 3, 2018].
Defendant contends that the Court has jurisdiction over this
action under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 as the case presents a
federal question, and, alternatively, subject matter
jurisdiction as the matter is between citizens of different
states and the case in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand in response to the
defendant's Notice of Removal. [Rec. Doc. 22, filed
September 10, 2018].
FEDERAL QUESTION JURISDICTION
motion to remand has been filed, the burden is on the
removing party to establish that federal jurisdiction exists.
De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th
Cir. 1995). The removal statute is to be strictly construed,
and any doubt about the propriety of removal must be resolved
in favor of remand and against federal-court jurisdiction.
Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sch. Dist., 44
F.3d 362, 365-366 (5th Cir. 1998). “If at any time
before final judgment it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
courts have jurisdiction over “all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Courts apply the
“well-pleaded complaint rule” to determine
whether a suit arises under federal law, asking
“whether the plaintiff has affirmatively alleged a
federal claim.” New Orleans & Gulf Coast Ry.
Co. v. Barrois, 533 F.3d 321, 328 (5th Cir.2008). As a
corollary, “anticipated or potential defenses,
including defenses based on federal preemption, do not
provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction.”
Id. “[I]t is now settled law that a case may
not be removed to federal court on the basis of a
federal defense, including the defense of pre-emption, even
if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff's
complaint, and even if both parties concede that the federal
defense is the only question truly at issue.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393
(1987) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original). “An
exception applies to this rule when the complete preemption
doctrine applies.” Barrois, 533 F.3d at 330.
the complete preemption doctrine, what otherwise appears as
merely a state law claim is converted to a claim arising
under federal law for jurisdictional purposes because the
federal statute so forcibly and completely displaces state
law that the plaintiff's cause of action is either wholly
federal or nothing at all.” Elam v. Kansas City S.
Ry. Co., 635 F.3d 796, 803 (5th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). “The question
in complete preemption analysis is whether Congress intended
the federal cause of action to be the exclusive cause of
action for the particular claims asserted under state
law.” Barrois, 533 F.3d at 331.
“Congress can indicate its preemptive intent either
expressly through a statute's plain language, or
impliedly through a statute's structure and
purpose.” Elam, 635 F.3d at 803 (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
preemption doctrine applies to state causes of action that
‘fall squarely' under 49 U.S.C. § 10501(b) of
the ICCTA.” Id. (citation omitted). Section
(b) The jurisdiction of the [Surface Transportation]
(1) transportation by rail carriers, and the remedies
provided in this part with respect to rates, classifications,
rules (including car service, interchange, and other
operating rules), practices, routes, services, and facilities
of such carriers; and
(2) the construction, acquisition, operation, abandonment, or
discontinuance of spur, industrial, team, switching, or side
tracks, or facilities, even if the tracks are located, or