United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (R. Doc. 77)
filed on November 29, 2018. The motion is opposed. (R. Doc.
Lowery, III (“Plaintiff”) initiated this action
in the 19th Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish,
Louisiana on or about March 23, 2017. (R. Doc. 1-1 at 1-5).
Plaintiff seeks recovery for alleged personal injuries
resulting from an automobile accident involving an ambulance
in which Plaintiff was a passenger and a vehicle driven by
the defendant Shawn Williams. Plaintiff alleges that he and
Mr. Williams were both residents of the State of Louisiana at
the time the action was filed.
April 21, 2017, Ace American Insurance Company and The
Sherwin-Williams Company removed the action, asserting that
the Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. (R. Doc. 1). In relevant part, the removing
defendants assert that at the time of removal, Mr. Williams
was a “resident citizen of Georgia, ” and,
accordingly, that there is complete diversity between the
parties. (R. Doc. 1 at 3-4).
21, 2017, the removing defendants filed a statement by Mr.
Williams providing, among other things, that he moved from
Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia in February of
2017, and that he did not “intend to return to
Louisiana to live permanently, ” that he intended to
enroll in a police academy in Gulfport, Mississippi, and that
he intended to permanently move to Gulfport, Mississippi
after graduation from the police academy. (R. Doc. 15).
Furthermore, Mr. Williams represented in his discovery
responses that he “lived” in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana from February 2016 through February 2017; in
Atlanta, Georgia from February 2017 through May 2017; and on
a tug boat at sea off and on from March 2017 through November
2017. (R. Doc. 84-1 at 5).
March 20, 2018, Mr. Williams testified at his deposition that
since May 2017 he has resided in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (R.
Doc. 77-2 at 8). He also confirmed that he previously lived
in Georgia, but also indicated that his was prior to the
accident in this case, and that he has lived in Louisiana
since that accident. (R. Doc. 77-2 at 11). The defense
asserts that any potential inconsistencies in the deposition
testimony are a result of vague or confusing questioning. (R.
Doc. 84 at 1).
addition, Mr. Williams was issued a Louisiana driver's
license on January 20, 2017, approximately two months before
this action was filed. (R. Doc. 77-2 at 97-98).
now seeks remand on the basis that the Court lacks complete
diversity of citizenship, and, therefore, subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (R. Doc. 77).
In opposition, the defendants assert that Mr. Williams was a
citizen of Georgia at the time of removal, and that any
post-removal change of citizenship is irrelevant. (R. Doc.
82). In an additional statement, and in support of a finding
that he was domiciled in Georgia at the time of removal, Mr.
Williams asserts that in March 2017 he sought to become a
police officer with the City of East Point, Georgia; that he
opened a bank account in Atlanta, Georgia in May of 2017;
that he received a physical examination on May 25, 2017 in
Hampton, Georgia related to his application to attend the
Harrison County Law Enforcement Training Academy in
Mississippi; and that he withdrew the foregoing application
on August 2017. (R. Doc. 84-2).
reviewed the record, the Court finds it appropriate to hold
an evidentiary hearing to develop the record and assess the
credibility of Mr. Williams to determine his citizenship at
the time of removal. See Padilla-Mangual v. Pavia
Hospital, 516 F.3d 29 (1st Cir. 2007); Core VCT PLC,
et al. v. Hensley, 59 F.Supp.3d 123 (D.C. 2014). The
sole issue to be determined at the evidentiary hearing is Mr.
Williams' domicile (i.e., citizenship) at the time the
petition was filed in state court and at the time of removal.
See St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab. Co., 303
U.S. 283, 289-91 (1938); Gebbia v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 233 F.3d 880, 883 (5th Cir. 2000). The evidence to
be submitted by the parties shall address the factors for
determining domicile enumerated by the Fifth Circuit. See
Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 250-51 (5th Cir. 1996).
IS ORDERED that an evidentiary hearing is scheduled
in this matter for January 18, 2019 at 10:00
a.m. in Courtroom 6. The hearing is
limited to a determination of Shawn Williams' domicile at
the time of removal.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that by January 16,
2019, the plaintiff and the defendants shall
exchange lists of witnesses and exhibits to be offered at the
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Shawn Williams shall be
present at the hearing and shall be ...