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Thompson v. General Motors LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

December 28, 2016

MARCUS JARAL THOMPSON PLAINTIFF
v.
GENERAL MOTORS LLC; and THE ESTATE OF KEVIN MONZON, Deceased DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Debra M. Brown, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This products liability action is before the Court on the motion to remand of Marcus Jaral Thompson. Doc. #14. Because one of the properly served and joined defendants in this action did not consent to removal, remand will be granted.

         I

         Procedural History

         On October 5, 2015, Marcus Jaral Thompson filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Leflore County, Mississippi, against General Motors, LLC (“GM LLC”), and the Estate of Kevin Monzon (“Estate”). Doc. #2. The complaint, which asserts negligence and product liability claims arising from an automobile accident in which Thompson was a passenger in a General Motors automobile driven by Monzon, alleges that: (1) “Plaintiff is an adult resident citizen of the State of Texas;” (2) the Estate was “opened in Copiah County, Mississippi;” and (3) “Defendant General Motors LLC is a Delaware limited liability company doing business in the State of Mississippi.” Id. at ¶¶ 1-4. On January 13, 2016, the Estate, denying the negligence allegations, answered the complaint and filed a crossclaim against GM LLC and a third party claim against the unnamed driver of the other automobile involved in the collision. Doc. #1-5.

         The Estate's crossclaim seeks recovery for a wide variety of injuries and damages, including medical expenses, funeral expenses, and “[t]he injuries and ultimate death of Kevin Monzon.” Id. at ¶ 25.

         On February 9, 2016, GM LLC, alleging diversity jurisdiction, removed the case to this Court. Doc. #1. The notice of removal alleges that: (1) Thompson is a citizen of Texas; (2) GM LLC is a citizen of Delaware and Michigan;[1] and (3) “Monzon's Estate is a citizen of Mississippi because Monzon was a resident and citizen of Mississippi.” Id. at ¶ 23-25. The notice of removal contends that “Monzon's Estate was improperly joined as a Defendant and its citizenship should not be considered for purposes of removal and diversity jurisdiction.” Id. at ¶ 6. Approximately one week later, on February 15, 2016, counsel for the Estate sent an e-mail to Thompson's counsel stating that the Estate “does not consent to the removal in this case.” Doc. #14-3.

         On March 9, 2016, Thompson filed a motion to remand. Doc. #14. The same day, the Estate filed a “Joinder of Trinidad Monzon, Administratrix of the Estate of Kevin Monzon, Deceased in Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.” Doc. #15. On March 14, 2016, GM LLC filed a motion for remand-related discovery, which was granted in part on April 14, 2016. Doc. #17; Doc. #24. At the conclusion of remand-related discovery, GM LLC responded in opposition to the motion to remand on May 16, 2016. Doc. #30. Thompson did not reply in support of his remand motion.

         II Analysis

         “A party may remove an action from state court to federal court if the action is one over which the federal court possesses subject matter jurisdiction. The removing party bears the burden of showing that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper.” Manguno v. Prudential Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted).

         A. Federal Jurisdiction

         In its notice of removal, GM LLC argues that this action implicates the Court's diversity jurisdiction. Diversity jurisdiction requires that there be: (1) complete diversity between the parties; and (2) an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). Complete diversity, in turn, “requires that all persons on one side of the controversy be citizens of different states than all persons on the other side.” Harvey, 542 F.3d at 1079 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         With regard to the amount in controversy, the state court complaint pleads, “It is not possible … to plead the exact amounts of all damages at this time, but they clearly exceed Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ….” Doc. #2 at ¶ 48. This allegation is supported by Thompson's request for damages arising from “medical testing, invasive procedures, loss of function in his legs and arms, physical impairment, disfigurement, limitation of activities, loss of enjoyment of life, physical and emotional pain, physical and emotional suffering, mental anguish, medical bills and expenses and all other damages allowed under the law.” Id. at ¶ 47. Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that the amount in controversy requirement has been met. See McCabe v. Ford Motor Co., No. 1:10-cv-98, 2010 WL 2545513, at *6 (E.D. Tex. June 21, 2010) (“Given the severity of [the] injuries, the nature of the damages alleged, and a review of cases involving similar or less severe injuries, recovery in excess of $75, 000.00 could reasonably be expected in this case.”) (collecting cases).

         Regarding complete diversity, GM LLC alleges that: (1) it is a citizen of Michigan and Delaware; (2) Thompson is a citizen of Texas; and (3) the Estate is a citizen of Mississippi. These ...


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