United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the issue of subject matter jurisdiction.
Mindful of its “independent obligation to determine
whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists[, ]” the
Court ordered simultaneous briefing addressing whether the
amount in controversy prerequisite to diversity jurisdiction
is met in this case. See Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp.,
546 U.S. 500, 514, 506-07 (2006)(citation omitted)(This duty
persists throughout all phases of the litigation, “even
after trial and the entry of final judgment.”). For the
reasons that follow, the Court finds that the case must be
remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
personal injury lawsuit arises out of an alleged hit and run
accident on November 11, 2017 on Third Street in New Orleans,
Louisiana, when a Freightliner allegedly struck a parked Ford
F150 and left the scene.
Excavating & Trucking, Inc., a company owned by Billy
Pounds, was doing demolition work at a construction site at
2113 Third Street in New Orleans on November 11, 2017. Pounds
was leaving the site on Third Street while driving a
Freightliner truck, which his company owned and which was
insured by United Fire and Casualty Company. As Pounds was
driving away from the site, the Freightliner he was driving
struck a legally parked and unoccupied 2003 Nissan. At this
same time, Thomas Valentine claims he was sitting in his 2001
Ford F-150, which was parked “next to” the
unoccupied Nissan, and that the Freightliner hit his parked
truck after hitting the Nissan. Valentine claims that Pounds
then left the scene. Valentine claims he then notified the
owner of the Nissan and called the New Orleans Police
Department to investigate, which they did, arriving to the
scene hours later.
Valentine sued United Fire and Casualty Company, B P
Excavating & Trucking, Inc., and Billy Pounds in state
court, seeking to recover for the damage he says the
collision caused to his truck and his person. He alleged that
he “sustained severe and disabling injuries to his body
and mind, including but not limited to neck, and back”
and that he has incurred medical expenses. The parties now
agree that Valentine does not seek lost wages or future lost
defendants dispute liability, medical causation, and damages.
No. witnesses (except Valentine himself) place Valentine or
his truck at the scene. Despite complaints of “severe
and debilitating injuries, ” Valentine first sought
medical treatment 17 days after the alleged accident
presenting to Dr. Ashfaq Qureshi at Louisiana Primary Care
Consultants. He has undergone soft tissue treatment.
Valentine has not been treated since November 15, 2018 for
any injuries he allegedly suffered in the accident. Valentine
claims to have incurred $7, 650 in medical expenses related
to the accident.
Fire and Casualty Company removed the lawsuit to this Court
on July 24, 2018, invoking this Court's diversity
jurisdiction. The plaintiff never moved to remand his case to
state court. After the defendants answered the lawsuit, the
Court conducted a scheduling conference and issued a
scheduling order, selecting a July 25, 2019 pretrial
conference date and an August 12, 2019 jury trial date.
Discovery has closed, no party has filed any dispositive
motions, and no parties contemplate filing any motions.
jointly-filed pretrial order proposed by counsel, the parties
submit that the Court has diversity jurisdiction because the
parties are diverse and that “while defendants admits
(sic) neither liability nor any element of damages, the
amount in controversy herein reasonably could exceed $75,
000.” During the pretrial conference, the Court raised
the issue of its jurisdiction and issued an order to show
cause as to why this case should not be remanded due to the
absence of diversity jurisdiction for failure to satisfy the
amount in controversy requirement. Mindful that
“[l]itigants cannot bestow subject matter jurisdiction
on federal courts by waiver or consent[, ]” Elam v.
Kan. City S. Ry. Co., 635 F.3d 796, 802 (5th Cir. 2011),
the Court now considers whether it has jurisdiction.
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 ...