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Tull v. Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 19, 2019

CLAUDETTE TULL
v.
PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT, INC., d/b/a BOOMTOWN BELLE CASINO WEST BANK

         SECTION “F”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to remand, along with a request for reasonable costs and attorney's fees incurred a result of the removal. For the reasons that follow, the motion to remand is GRANTED, and the request for costs and fees is DENIED.

         Background

         This litigation arises out of a slip-and-fall accident in a casino.

         On April 13, 2018, Claudette Tull visited Boomtown Casino in Harvey, Louisiana where she slipped on “water or some other slippery substance.” The following year, Tull sued Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., doing business as “Boomtown Belle Casino Westbank, ” in state court, alleging that the defendant's negligence caused her to sustain injuries. Although she alleges no particular facts concerning the manifestation or nature of her injuries, Tull seeks “reasonable compensation” for various damages, including past, present, and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life.

         On April 11, 2019, Pinnacle Entertainment removed the lawsuit to this Court, invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff now moves to remand.

         I.

         A.

         Although the plaintiff challenges removal in this case, the removing defendant carries the burden of showing the propriety of this Court's removal jurisdiction. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Jernigan v. Ashland Oil, Inc., 989 F.2d 812, 815 (5th Cir. 1993). Given the significant federalism concerns implicated by removal, the removal statute is strictly construed, “and any doubt about the propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of remand.” Gutierrez v. Flores, 543 F.3d 248, 251 (5th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 491 F.3d 278, 281-82 (5th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted).

         B.

         A defendant may generally remove a civil action filed in state court if the federal court has original jurisdiction over the case -- that is, if the plaintiff could have brought the action in federal court from the outset. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). To exercise diversity jurisdiction, complete diversity must exist between the plaintiff and all of the properly joined defendants, and the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The only dispute here is whether the amount-in-controversy requirement is met.

         To determine whether it has jurisdiction, the Court must consider the allegations in the state court petition as they existed at the time of removal. See Manguno, 276 F.3d at 723 (citing Cavallini v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 44 F.3d 256, 264 (5th Cir. 1995)). Louisiana law requires that a plaintiff include “no specific amount of damages” in her prayer for relief. La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 893.

         When the plaintiff has, therefore, alleged an indeterminate amount of damages, the removing party must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Simon v. Wal-Mart Stores, 193 F.3d 848, 850 (5th Cir. 1999); see also De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1412 (5th Cir. 1995). This showing may be made by either (1) showing that it is facially apparent that the plaintiff's claims likely exceed $75, 000, or (2) setting forth “summary judgment type evidence” of facts in ...


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