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McCrae Law Firm, PLLC v. Gilmer

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

January 3, 2018

McCRAE LAW FIRM, PLLC PLAINTIFF
v.
BARRY W. GILMER, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER AND OPINION

          David Bramlette UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on Plaintiff McRae Law Firm, PLLC's Motion to Remand [Doc. 3] and Motion to Waive the notice requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 [Doc. 6]. Having considered the motions, the responses, and applicable statutory and case law, and being otherwise fully informed in the premises, the Court finds as follows:

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a long-running fee dispute between two Mississippi law firms. The parties are non-diverse, the complaint rests upon purely state-law theories, and the case has twice been remanded. And now -- for a third time -- the defendant law firm removes this action to this Court. In so doing, it posits that a complaint filed by the plaintiff law firm in another case is an “other paper” upon which this Court may base its jurisdictional determination. The plaintiff law firm moves to remand and requests sanctions.

         On July 21, 2016, Plaintiff McRae Law Firm, PLLC (“McRae”) sued Defendant Barry W. Gilmer and his law firm (collectively, “Gilmer”) in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County on state-law quasi-contract and breach of fiduciary duty theories.

         McRae complains that Gilmer wrongfully retained settlement proceeds from a legal malpractice suit. Although both firms assisted the plaintiff in that suit, McRae insists that Gilmer's involvement was minimal and that his fee should so reflect.

         Less than one month after McRae filed the state-court complaint, Gilmer removed the case. [Doc. 3-2] Gilmer's notice of removal invoked diversity and federal-question jurisdiction, however, the Court disclaimed the existence of either and remanded the case. [Doc. 3-3]

         One month after the Court's Order of Remand, Gilmer again removed the case. [Doc. 3-5] This time, Gilmer premised federal jurisdiction on his “federally protected right to a jury trial.” [Doc. 3-5]. The Court remanded the case in a one-page order. [Doc. 3-6]

         For the third time, Gilmer removes this action to this Court. [Doc. 1] Gilmer's latest jurisdictional theory is that a RICO complaint McRae filed in another federal-court case is an “other paper” creating federal-question jurisdiction in this case.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Removal Jurisdiction

         Gilmer may remove McRae's state-court suit to this Court if the suit is one which McRae could have originally brought in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Original jurisdiction may be based on diversity or federal-question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.

         The Court is without diversity jurisdiction because McCrae's state-court complaint confirms that McRae and at least one of the Gilmer Defendants are Mississippi citizens. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Settlement Funding, L.L.C. v. Rapid Settlements, Ltd., 851 F.3d 530, 536 (5th Cir. 2017) (citation and quotation omitted).

         The Court has federal-question jurisdiction if McRae's state-court complaint asserts a claim “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Courts apply the well-pleaded complaint rule to decide whether a complaint asserts a claim arising under federal law. Beiser v. Weyler,284 ...


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