United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is plaintiff Molly Swanson's
(“Swanson”) Motion to Remand .
Defendant, Robert Hempstead (“Hempstead”), filed
a response in opposition to the Motion . The Court has
considered the submissions of the parties, along with
relevant case law and evidence, and is now prepared to rule.
5, 2016, Swanson filed a complaint in the County Court of
Desoto County, Mississippi alleging damages resulting from a
vehicle collision. Swanson alleges Hempstead was negligent in
driving a vehicle involved in the collision in which Swanson
was a passenger. In her complaint, Swanson requests monetary
damages arising from bodily injury, physical pain and
emotional distress, medical expenses, temporary disability,
and property damage, as well as punitive damages.
December 28, 2016, Swanson submitted a letter to Hempstead
demanding $110, 000 as a final settlement of her claim or the
maximum amount allowable under Hempstead's insurance
policy, whichever amount is less. The demand letter stated:
In light of the expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional
trauma Mrs. Swanson has endured since this motor vehicle
accident occurred, my client has authorized me to demand the
sum of $110, 000.00 as full and final settlement of the
bodily injury of this claim or policy limits, whichever is
less. If it is policy limits a waiver of subrogation from the
UIM provider will be condition to settlement.
Swanson alleges that Hempstead's policy limit is $25,
4, 2017, Hempstead filed a notice of removal alleging
diversity had been perfected, and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. On May 26, 2017, Swanson moved to remand
the case back to county court on the grounds that the amount
in controversy does not exceed $75, 000. On June 6, 2017,
Hempstead filed a response in opposition to Swanson's
motion to remand.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having ‘only
the authority endowed by the Constitution and that conferred
by Congress.'” Halmekangas v. State Farm Fire
and Cas. Co., 603 F.3d 290, 292 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Epps v. Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Improvement
Dist. No. 1, 665 F.2d 594, 595 (5th Cir. 1982)). The
Judiciary Act of 1789 provides that “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the
United States for the district and division embracing the
place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. §
removal, a plaintiff may move to remand the action to state
court, and “[i]f it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). However,
“removal statutes are to be construed strictly against
removal and for remand.” Eastus v. Blue Bell
Creameries, L.P., 97 F.3d 100, 106 (5th Cir. 1996)
(citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313
U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941)).
“Any ambiguities are construed against removal.”
Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276
F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Acuna v. Brown
& Root, Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000)).
Furthermore, “[t]he removing party bears the burden of
establishing that federal jurisdiction exists.” De
Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th Cir.
1995) (citing Gaitor v. Peninsular & Occidental
Steamship Co., 287 F.2d 252, 253-54 (5th Cir. 1961)).
removal to be proper, Hempstead must show by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000. Id. at 1412. “[T]he plaintiff's claim
remains presumptively correct unless the defendant can show
by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in
controversy is greater than the jurisdictional amount.”
Id. “[O]nce a defendant is able to show that
the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount,
removal is proper, provided plaintiff has not shown that it
is legally certain that his recovery will not exceed the
amount stated in the state complaint.” Id.;
See also St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co.,
303 U.S. 283, 289, 58 S.Ct. 586, 590, 82 L.Ed. 845 (1938);
White v. FCI USA, Inc., 319 F.3d 672, 676 (5th Cir.
diversity jurisdiction exists only where there is complete
diversity between all plaintiffs and all defendants, and the
amount in controversy between the parties exceeds $75, 000.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Exxon Mobil Corp.
v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 564, 125 S.Ct.
2611, 162 L.Ed.2d 502 (2005). The parties do not ...