United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
SHARION AYCOCK U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
originally filed this action in the Coahoma County Circuit
Court. Defendant FCA U.S. LLC removed this action in
September of 2016 on the grounds that the only non-diverse
defendant, Cannon Chevrolet, Cadillac, Nissan, Inc.
("Cannon Chevrolet") was improperly joined and
should be disregarded for purposes of diversity analysis.
See Notice of Removal . Plaintiff has now moved
for a Motion to Remand . Because FCA has sufficiently
shown that the threshold for diversity jurisdiction exists,
the Motion to Remand is DENIED.
and Procedural Background
McClenton alleges that that she purchased a 2016 Dodge
Journey from Cannon Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram ("Cannon
CDJR") in Greenwood, Mississippi. Shortly thereafter,
McClenton claims that a fire originating from the vehicle
spread to her property, destroying the vehicle, her home, and
all its contents and personal property within. She filed a
complaint alleging a breach of warranties, both express and
implied, and defective design and defective manufacture, all
causes of action under the Mississippi Products Liability
FCA U.S. LLC removed the action to this Court alleging that
the in-state dealership was improperly joined and diversity
jurisdiction existed. Plaintiff seeks to remand the case back
to the Coahoma County Circuit Court alleging that FCA U.S.
LLC failed to establish jurisdiction in this Court.
for Removal and Remand
case was removed based on 28 U.S.C. Section 1332, diversity
of citizenship jurisdiction. Diversity of citizenship
jurisdiction requires satisfaction of the following two
factors: (1) amount in controversy; and (2) diversity of
citizenship. These requirements are set forth in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a), which states in relevant part that
"[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction
of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States. . .
removing party bears the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction." Laughlin v. Prudential Ins. Co.,
882 F.2d 187, 190 (5th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). Whether
a case is removable must be determined by reference to the
allegations made in the original pleadings. Wheeler v.
Frito-Lay, Inc., 743 F.Supp. 483, 485 (S.D.Miss. 1990).
The removing party alleging diversity of citizenship
jurisdiction on the basis of improper joinder has the burden
of proving either: "(1) actual fraud in the pleading of
jurisdictional facts, or (2) inability of the plaintiff to
establish a cause of action against the non-diverse party in
state court." Travis v. Irby, 326 F.3d 644, 647
(5th Cir. 2003) (citing Griggs v. State Farm Lloyds,
181 F.3d 694, 698 (5th Cir. 1999)); Laughlin, 882
F.2d at 190.
Travis, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit reiterated the standard by which a plaintiffs
claims must be analyzed to determine the improper joinder
question. The Travis court held:
[T]he court determines whether that party has any possibility
of recovery against the party whose joinder is questioned. If
there is arguably a reasonable basis for predicting that the
state law might impose liability on the facts involved, then
there is no fraudulent joinder. This possibility, however,
must be reasonable, not merely theoretical.
Travis, 326 F.3d at 648 (citing Great Plains
Trust Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313
F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2002)). Further, conclusory or
generic allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the
non-diverse defendant are not sufficient to show that the
defendant was not improperly joined. Badon v. RJR
Nabisco, Inc., 224 F.3d 382, 392-93 (5th Cir. 2000).
Therefore, removal is not precluded merely because the state
court complaint, on its face, sets forth a state law claim
against a non-diverse defendant. Badon, 224 F.3d at
390. Removal is proper "if the plaintiffs pleading is
pierced and it is shown that as a matter of law there is no
reasonable basis for predicting that the plaintiff might
establish liability on that claim against the instate
conducting an improper joinder analysis, a court must resolve
all disputed questions of fact and ambiguities of law in
favor of the non-removing party, Dodson v. Spiliada
Maritime Corp., 951 F.2d 40, 42 (5th Cir. 1992), but
"only when there exists an actual controversy, i.e. when
both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts." Badon, 224 F.3d at 394 (emphasis in
original). A court should not, "in the absence of any
proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove
the necessary facts" to support his claims against the
non-diverse defendant. Id. (citing Little v.
Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)).
Complaint does not specify a dollar amount of damages sought.
However, in the Notice of Removal, the Defendant notes that
Plaintiff seeks as damages the value of the property, which
adds up to over $75, 000. Therefore, the Court finds that ...