United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF TRACY
WILLIAMS' MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT  AND MOTION TO
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Tracy Williams'
Motion to Amend Complaint  and Motion to Remand . The
Motions are fully briefed. Having considered the parties'
submissions, the related pleadings, and relevant legal
authority, the Court is of the opinion that Plaintiff's
Motions should be denied.
about May 20, 2016, Plaintiff Tracy Williams
(“Plaintiff”) was involved in an automobile
accident at the intersection of Three Rivers Road and Highway
605 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Compl. [1-2] at 1-2. Plaintiff
alleges that the collision was caused by the negligence of
Jessica L. Ramirez (“Ramirez”), who was insured
by USA Insurance Company with policy limits of $25, 000.00.
Id. Plaintiff avers that because of the extensive
nature of the injuries she suffered, her damages are in
excess of Ramirez' policy limits. Id. at 3. She
therefore filed a claim under her own underinsured insurance
policy with Safeway Insurance Company
(“Defendant”), seeking the policy limits of $50,
000.00. Id. According to Plaintiff, Safeway has
“wrongfully and in bad faith withheld benefits due to
the [P]laintiff.” Id. at 3-4.
originally filed her Complaint on September 14, 2017, in the
County Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, First Judicial
District, Cause No. D2401-17-1440, naming Safeway as the
Defendant and seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory
and punitive damages. Id. at 3-4. Defendant removed
the case to this Court invoking federal diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441,
and 1446. Notice of Removal  at 1-3. Defendant contends
that because Plaintiff is seeking a judgment for an
unspecified amount of compensatory damages, plus an
unspecified amount of punitive damages, her claims exceed
$75, 000.00, crossing the jurisdictional threshold for
diversity of citizenship cases. Id.
has filed both a Motion to Amend Complaint  and a Motion
to Remand . Plaintiff seeks leave to amend her Complaint
to clarify that the damages she is seeking “do not
exceed $75, 000, inclusive of the $25, 000.00 (sic) in
uninsured motorist's benefits available under the
applicable Safeway policy, compulsory and punitive damages,
attorney fees and costs.” Proposed First Am. Compl.
[9-1] at 4. Simultaneously, Plaintiff asks that this case be
remanded since the amount in controversy is less than the
statutory minimum of $75, 000.00. Mot. to Remand  at 2.
responds that federal jurisdiction attached at the time of
removal, and cannot be defeated through a subsequent motion
to amend the complaint to reduce the damages sought below the
jurisdictional amount. Resp. in Opp'n to Remand  at
1-3; Resp. in Opp'n Am. Compl.  at 1-2.
U.S.C. § 1441 provides for the removal of civil actions
brought in a state court of which the district courts have
original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) (2012). Under
28 U.S.C. § 1332, “[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 . . . .” 28 U.S.C. §
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having
subject-matter jurisdiction only over those matters
specifically designated by the Constitution or Congress.
Halmekangas v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 603
F.3d 290, 292 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing Epps v.
Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Improvement Dist. No.
1, 665 F.2d 594, 595 (5th Cir. 1982)). For this reason,
removal statutes are subject to strict construction. Hood
ex. rel. Miss. v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., 737 F.3d
78, 92 (5th Cir. 2013); Willy v. Coastal Corp., 855
F.2d 1160, 1164 (5th Cir. 1988). Doubts about whether federal
jurisdiction exists following removal must be resolved
against a finding of jurisdiction. Acuna v. Brown &
Root, Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing
Willy, 855 F.2d at 1164). The party seeking removal
bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction over
the state court suit. Boone v. Citigroup, Inc., 416
F.3d 382, 388 (5th Cir. 2005); Willy, 855 F.2d at
Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
record reflects, and the parties do not dispute, that they
are of diverse citizenship. At issue is whether the amount in
controversy is satisfied. According to § 1446(c)(2),
[i]f removal of a civil action is sought on the basis of the
jurisdiction conferred by section 1332(a), the sum demanded
in good faith in the initial pleading shall be deemed to be