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McNair v. Sprint Communications Company, L.P.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 18, 2019

LESLIE MCNAIR
v.
SPRINT COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY, L.P.

         SECTION "L" (3)

          ORDER & REASONS

          ELDON E. FALLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. R. Doc. 10. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 13. Having considered the parties' arguments and the applicable law, the Court now rules as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the alleged breach of an employment contract. R. Doc. 1-1. Plaintiff filed a brief petition in state court, alleging that Plaintiff was employed by Sprint United Management Company (erroneously named and sued as Sprint Communications Company, L.P.) as a manager of the company's retail store in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. R. Doc. 1-1 ¶ 2, 4. Plaintiff alleges that under her employment contract, “Defendant had a duty to provide employment for [Plaintiff].” R. Doc. 1-1 ¶ 6. Plaintiff contends Defendant breached this contract by terminating her employment “without cause, notice, or justification” in September 2017. R. Doc. 1-1 ¶ 7. Plaintiff alleges she suffered damages, including loss of income, loss of opportunity, and other costs, as a result. R. Doc. 1-1 ¶ 8.

         Defendant timely removed the matter to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. R. Doc. 1. According to the Notice of Removal, Plaintiff is a citizen of Louisiana and Defendant, a corporation organized under Kansas law with its principal place of business in Kansas, is a citizen of Kansas for jurisdictional purposes.[1] R. Doc. 1 ¶ 7, 8. Further, Defendant explains that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 because Plaintiff seeks compensation for lost income, among other damages. Defendant contends that Plaintiff was earning $69, 368.98 per year at the time she was terminated, so an award of back pay from the time of termination to the filing of the instant lawsuit would alone exceed the jurisdictional amount.[2] R. Doc. 1 ¶ 14.

         II. PENDING MOTION

         Plaintiff has filed a motion to remand. R. Doc. 10. In the motion, Plaintiff purports to stipulate that the amount in controversy does not exceed $74, 999.99, exclusive of interest and costs. R. Doc. 10 ¶ IV. Plaintiff further explains that she has filed for leave to amend her petition in order to name Duana Jordan, a Louisiana citizen and the District Manager of the retail store, as an additional, non-diverse defendant, thereby “plead[ing] elements demonstrating a lack of diversity jurisdiction by the federal courts of the United States.” R. Doc. 10 ¶ IV. Her motion to amend is currently pending in state court where the matter is set for a hearing on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. R. Doc. 10-3 at 3.

         Defendant opposes the motion. R. Doc. 13. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's post-removal efforts to destroy diversity jurisdiction by stipulating to an amount in controversy below $75, 000 and adding a non-diverse defendant are ineffective because jurisdiction is determined at the time of removal. R. Doc. 13 at 1. Defendant also argues that the state court lacks jurisdiction to allow Plaintiff to amend her petition and that even if Plaintiff could do so, diversity jurisdiction would not be destroyed because joinder of the non-diverse defendant would be fraudulent. R. Doc. 13 at 6.

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Remand

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). This Court “may not exercise that jurisdiction absent a statutory basis.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005). Because removal jurisdiction “raises significant federalism concerns, ” Willy v. Coastal Corp., 855 F.2d 1160, 1164 (5th Cir. 1988), it is strictly construed and doubts regarding removal jurisdiction should be resolved against federal jurisdiction, Acuna v. Brown & Root, Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000).

         Federal courts have original jurisdiction over matters involving state law claims when the parties are completely diverse and when the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Complete diversity exists when no plaintiff shares a state of citizenship with any defendant. McLaughlin v. Mississippi Power Co., 376 F.3d 344, 353 (5th Cir. 2004). A case may be removed on the basis of diversity jurisdiction if, when the case was originally, the parties were diverse and the jurisdictional amount was satisfied.

         B. ...


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