United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
ANNIE Y. GRIFFIN and FREDERICK GRIFFIN PLAINTIFFS
CITIMORTGAGE, INC., as successor in interest to ABN AMRO MORTGAGE GROUP, INC., JAUREGUI & LINDSEY, LLC, as trustee, GRANDVIEW LAKES HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATION, LLC, and ABC COMPANIES DEFENDANTS
B. BIGGERS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the court upon the plaintiffs' motion
to remand. Upon due consideration of the motion, response,
complaint, exhibits and applicable authority, the court is
ready to rule.
and Procedural Background
Annie and Frederick Griffin purchased a house located in
Walls, Mississippi on June 5, 2001. Plaintiffs ceased making
their mortgage payments in late 2006. Defendant CitiMortgage
is the current servicer for Plaintiffs' mortgage on the
property. On May 23, 2018, Plaintiffs received a Notice of
Foreclosure Sale which advised that CitiMortgage would hold a
foreclosure sale of Plaintiffs' property on June 19,
aforementioned property is governed by Grandview Lakes
Homeowner's Association, Inc. (“Grandview”)
and is subject to certain Restrictive Covenants. The
covenants were established on October 29, 1987. On December
28, 2005, Grandview attempted to amend the covenants so that
the failure to pay HOA fees could be used to place a lien on
properties located within the subdivision.
to the new amendments, Grandview filed a Complaint for
Judicial Foreclosure against Plaintiffs in chancery court on
December 18, 2016. Plaintiffs responded by challenging the
validity of said amendments. The chancery court agreed with
Plaintiffs and granted them partial summary judgment on the
issue on September 2, 1014. The chancery matter is still
11, 2018, Plaintiffs commenced the instant litigation in the
Chancery Court of DeSoto County, Mississippi. Plaintiffs
assert claims for breach of contract and wrongful foreclosure
against CitiMortgage and various tort claims against
Grandview. Plaintiffs also named Jauregui & Lindsey, LLC
(“J&L”) and ABC Companies as defendants.
CitiMortgage promptly removed the action to this court on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs now move to
for Removal and Remand
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 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. § 1441(a). A district court has “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. §
statutes are to be construed strictly against removal and in
favor of 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(1941)). “The intent of Congress drastically
to restrict federal jurisdiction in controversies between
citizens of different states has always been rigorously
enforced by the court.” Garcia v. Koch Oil Co. of
Texas, Inc., 351 F.3d 636, 638 (5th Cir. 2003) (quoting
St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S.
283, 288 (1938)).
removing party bears the burden of establishing the basis of
diversity jurisdiction. Id., see also De Aguilar
v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th Cir. 1995).
Further, should the court have any doubts about its
jurisdiction, “it should resolve those doubts by
ordering a remand.” Dardeau v. West Orange-Grove
Consolidated Independent School Dist., 43 F.Supp.2d 722,
730 (E.D. Tex. 1999) (citing Vasquez v. Alto Bonito
Gravel Plant Corp., 56 F.3d 689, 694 (5th Cir. 1995)).
In deciding a motion to remand, the court may, under certain
circumstances, pierce the pleadings and consider
“summary judgment-type evidence.” Davidson v.
Georgia-Pacific, LLC¸819 F.3d 758, 765 (5th Cir.
parties concede that no federal question has been raised.
Thus, for the court to have jurisdiction over this matter, it
must be based on diversity of citizenship. In moving to
remand, Plaintiffs argue that diversity jurisdiction does not
exist because the parties are not completely diverse.
Complete diversity “requires that all persons on one
side of the controversy be citizens of different states than
all persons on the other side.” McLaughlin v.
Mississippi Power Co., 376 F.3d 344, 353 (5th Cir.
2004)(citing Harrison v. Prather, 404 F.2d 267, 272
(5th Cir. 1968)). Plaintiffs are citizens of Mississippi.
Although CitiMortgage-a citizen of New York and Missouri-is
diverse from Plaintiffs, Defendants J&L and Grandview are
citizens of Mississippi. Thus, unless some exception applies,
the parties are not completely diverse, and this court lacks
argues that the court may disregard the citizenship of
J&L and Grandview because they have been improperly
joined in this action to defeat federal jurisdiction. When a
court's jurisdiction is premised on diversity
jurisdiction, “[t]he improper joinder doctrine
constitutes a narrow exception to the rule of complete
diversity.” McDonal v. Abbott Laboratories,
408 F.3d 177, 183 (5th Cir. 2005). The removing party ...