United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
E. FALLON U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Brandon Williams' Motion to
Remand. R. Doc. 12. The Motion is opposed. R. Doc. 14. For
the reasons that follow, the Court will DENY
9, 2018, Plaintiff Brandon Williams filed a petition in the
Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of
Louisiana, alleging that on January 13, 2018, he was stopped
at a traffic light headed east-bound on St. Charles Avenue
when Defendant Zachary Raynor hit the car stopped behind Mr.
Williams', causing the car behind Mr. Williams to
“vault . . . into Mr. Williams' [car].” R.
Doc. 1-2 at ¶¶ 4-5. Mr. Williams alleges Mr. Raynor
“made no attempt to stop before the impact, ” and
“did not realize traffic was stopped or intentionally
declined to apply his breaks, ” as Mr. Raynor was
“either asleep, . . . looking at his phone, or . . .
intoxicated.” Id. at ¶¶ 7-8.
result of the impact, Mr. Williams alleges he
“sustained both new injuries and exacerbat[ed] previous
injuries, . . . all of which are serious and extensive in
nature, and require continuing medical care and
treatment.” Id. at ¶ 11. Mr. Williams
asks for a judgment against Mr. Raynor and his automobile
insurance company, Defendant Geico Casualty Insurance Company
(“Geico”), for “past, present and future
pain and suffering; past, present and future medical and
pharmaceutical expenses; past, present and future mental
anguish and emotional trauma; past, present and future loss
of enjoyment of life; loss of enjoyment of life; and other
damages itemized at the trial of this matter.”
Id. at ¶ 11.
December 31, 2018, Mr. Raynor removed the case to this Court.
R. Doc. 1. In his notice of removal, Mr. Raynor contends this
Court has jurisdiction over the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332, as the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000
and there is diversity of citizenship between the parties. R.
Doc. 1 at ¶ II.
January 30, 2019, Mr. Williams filed a Motion to Remand,
arguing the Court lacks diversity jurisdiction over this
action as both he and Mr. Raynor are citizens of Louisiana.
R. Doc. 12-2 at 1-2. In opposition, Mr. Raynor submits he was
a citizen of Pennsylvania at the time Mr. Williams filed suit
in state court and when the case was removed to this Court.
R. Doc. 14 at 1.
LAW & ANALYSIS
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may
be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the
district court of the United States for the district and
division embracing the place where such action is
pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). If a federal court
would have had original jurisdiction, a defendant may
generally remove the case to federal court. In the present
case, Mr. Williams asserts this Court has original
jurisdiction over the suit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332,
which provides that “[t]he district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter
in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs, and is
between…citizens of different States.” The
removing party bears the burden of establishing that federal
jurisdiction exists. De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47
F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing Gaitor v.
Peninsular & Occidental S.S. Co., 287 F.2d 252,
253-54 (5th Cir. 1961)). “To determine whether
jurisdiction is present for removal, [the court should]
consider the claims in the state court petition as they
existed at the time of removal.” Manguno v.
Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d
720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002). The removal statute should be
strictly construed in favor of remand. Id. (citing
Acuna v. Brown & Root, Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339
(5th Cir. 2000)). The only jurisdictional issue remaining in
this case is whether diversity of citizenship existed at the
time of removal.
decide whether diversity jurisdiction exists, the Court must
determine the parties' respective domiciles. See
Preston v. Tenet Healthsystem Memorial Med. Ctr., Inc.,
485 F.3d 793, 797-98 (5th Cir. 2007). A party's domicile
serves as his state of citizenship. Id. (citing
Stine v. Moore, 213 F.2d 446, 448 (5th Cir. 1954)).
“[T]he question of a person's domicile is a matter
of federal common law.” Acridge v. Evangelical
Lutheran Good Samaritan Soc., 334 F.3d 444, 448 (5th
Cir. 2003) (citing Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 248
(5th Cir. 1996)). In Acridge v. Evangelical Lutheran Good
Samaritan Society, the Fifth Circuit provided a thorough
explanation of how a person's domicile can change:
A person acquires a “domicile of origin” at
birth, and this domicile is presumed to continue absent
sufficient evidence of change. There is a presumption of
continuing domicile that applies whenever a person relocates.
In order to defeat the presumption and establish a new
domicile (the “domicile of choice”), the person
must demonstrate both (1) residence in a new state, and (2)
an intention to remain in that state indefinitely.
Id. (citation omitted); see also Preston,
485 F.3d at 798 (“A person's state of domicile
presumptively continues unless rebutted with sufficient
evidence of change.”). “[M]ere presence in a new
location does not effect a change of domicile; it must be
accompanied with the requisite intent.” Coury,
85 F.3d at 250. There are several ...