United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
VINTAGE ASSETS, INC.
TENNESSEE GAS PIPELINE COMPANY, L.L.C. ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Costs and Fees
Related to Remand (Doc. 317). For the following reasons, the
Motion is DENIED.
motion before the Court arises out of an unexpected
conclusion to a heavily litigated dispute. After pending
before this Court for nearly 2-and-one-half years, ten
summary judgment motions, and a six-day bench trial, all
rulings made by this Court were vacated on appeal for want of
diversity subject matter jurisdiction. The Fifth Circuit
ordered this removed action to be remanded back to state
court. Understandably disgruntled by this turn of events,
Plaintiffs have filed the instant motion seeking all
reasonable costs and attorneys' fees related to and
arising from the remand. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants
High Point Gas Transmission, LLC and High Point Gas
Gathering, LLC (collectively “High Point
entities”) possessed knowledge of their citizenship and
failed to disclose such.
timeline of events is as follows. On December 18, 2015,
Plaintiffs filed this action against Tennessee Gas Pipeline
Company, LLC (TGP) and Southern Natural Gas Company, LLC
(SNG) in the 25th Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Plaquemines. On January 27, 2016, TGP and SNG removed the
matter to this Court on the basis of diversity of
citizenship. On October 24, 2016, Plaintiffs amended their
Complaint to add the High Point entities, improperly pleading
the citizenships of the LLCs as if they were corporations.
The High Point entities did not challenge the representation
of their citizenships or the jurisdiction of this Court.
allege that thereafter they propounded discovery requests on
each of the High Point entities, seeking detailed
descriptions of their corporate history. The entities
responded revealing that each entity is owned by a string of
parent LLCs, ending with American Midstream, LLC. The High
Point entities did not provide information in their discovery
responses regarding the members of American Midstream, LLC.
prompting of the Fifth Circuit on appeal, the High Point
entities revealed for the first time that the sole owner of
American Midstream, LLC is American Midstream Partners, LP.
American Midstream Partners, LP has a class of limited
partners that are holders of “common units, ”
which are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The
High Point entities then represented that on the date they
were added to this action, “an individual” who
resided in Louisiana held shares in a common unit. Based on
this representation, the Fifth Circuit vacated the judgment
of this Court and remanded this matter back to this Court to
be remanded to state court. Plaintiffs now seek all
reasonable attorney's fees and costs arising out of the
remand of this action.
seek an award of attorney's fees and costs under 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, 28
U.S.C. § 1927, and the Court's inherent power. This
Court finds that none of these authorizes the award requested
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)
to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), “[a]n order remanding the
case may require payment of just costs and any actual
expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of
the removal.” “[A] district court is not divested
of jurisdiction to award attorney fees and costs pursuant to
§ 1447(c) after a remand has been
certified.” The High Point entities correctly point
out that § 1447(c) entitles plaintiffs to an award of
attorney's fees and costs “incurred as a result of
the removal.” The High Point entities did not remove
this case to federal court and indeed were not parties at the
time of removal. Accordingly, this Court is not authorized
under 28 U.S.C. § 1447 to award attorney's fees
against them. Section 1447(c) is intended to deter baseless
attempts at removal and an award against the High Point
entities would be inconsistent with this
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37
Rule of Civil Procedure 37(d)(3) allows an award of expenses
for the failure to respond to discovery. Plaintiffs argue
that they are entitled to an award under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 37 because the High Point entities failed to