Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Turnage v. General Motors LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

November 20, 2017

ELEANOR TURNAGE PLAINTIFF
v.
GENERAL MOTORS LLC DEFENDANT

          OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID BRAMLETTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This Cause is before the Court on the Court's Order [Doc. No. 25');">25] that the Defendant, General Motors LLC (“GM”), show cause to the Court why it has subject-matter jurisdiction, and why the case should not be remanded to the Circuit Court of Rankin County, Mississippi. Having considered the parties' jurisdictional memoranda, applicable statutory and case law, and being otherwise fully informed in the premises, the Court finds as follows:

         I. BACKGROUND

         The airbags in Plaintiff Eleanor Turnage's GM-manufactured Chevrolet Traverse failed to deploy when her car collided with another. Turnage sued GM in the Circuit Court of Rankin County for personal injury and property damages caused by the car's defective airbag system. GM removed the case to this Court, invoking diversity jurisdiction. After reviewing Turnage's Complaint and GM's Notice of Removal, the Court ruled that the amount-in-controversy was unclear, and ordered the parties to brief the issue.

         First, the Court ordered Turnage to state whether she intends to file an affidavit limiting her recovery to below the jurisdictional thresholds for diversity jurisdiction and for Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA” or “Act”) jurisdiction. See St. Paul Reinsurance Co. v. Greenberg, 25');">250');">134 F.3d 125');">250, 125');">254 n. 18 (5th Cir. 1998). Turner replies that she will not submit an affidavit limiting her recovery. [Doc. No. 29]

         Second, the Court ordered Turnage to outline her damages. [Doc. No. 25');">25, p. 8] In response, Turnage explains that she asks for “all damages to which she is entitled” under the MMWA, $3, 000 in medical expenses, $150, 000 in lost income, and $1 million in “other damages.” [Doc. No. 35, ¶¶4-7]

         Third, the Court ordered GM to explain why the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction. And more specifically, the Court asked GM for evidence that Turnage claims damages exceeding the jurisdictional thresholds of the diversity statute and of the MMWA. In reply, GM points to Turnage's initial disclosures as evidence that the amount-in-controversy is met -- at least as to Turnage's state-law claims. [Doc. No. 36, ¶5] In particular, GM touts Turnage's request for $150, 000 in lost wages and $1 million in “other damages.” [Doc. No. 35, ¶¶4-6]

         Turnage's MMWA claim is more difficult to value. And on that claim, GM offers less compelling proof that the amount-in- controversy is met. GM relies on Turnage's vague request for “all damages to which she is entitled” under the Act. [Doc. No. 35, ¶11] But if the Court finds less than $50, 000 is in controversy on the MMWA claim, GM asks the Court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over it. [Doc. No. 35, ¶12]

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court has jurisdiction of civil suits between parties of diverse citizenship and in which more than $75, 000 is in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Turnage and GM are diverse, so jurisdiction turns on the amount-in-controversy.

         The amount-in-controversy is what Turnage claims, not what she is “likely to win or be awarded.” Robertson v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 814 F.3d 236, 240 (5th Cir. 2015). And the Court views the amount-in-controversy as of the time GM removed this case from the Rankin County Circuit Court. Gebbia v. Wal-Mart Stores, 233 F.3d 880, 883 (5th Cir. 2000); Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335 (5th Cir. 1995).

         The amount-in-controversy is met when the plaintiff's complaint asks for sum that exceeds it. In such cases, that sum controls unless it appears to a legal certainty that the claim is for a lesser amount. St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 287-88 (1938).

         But Turnage's Complaint does not ask for a specific sum. Thus, GM must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount-in-controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum. De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 11 F.3d 55, 58 (5th Cir. 1993). It may do so two ways.

         First, GM may direct the Court to the Complaint -- asking the Court to find the amount-in-controversy “facially apparent.” White v. FCI USA, Inc., 319 F.3d 672, 675 (5th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Second, GM may present “summary-judgment-type” evidence showing that the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.