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Estate of Montgomery v. Caregivers Services, L.L.C

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

January 15, 2019

ESTATE OF WILLIAM M. MONTGOMERY, DECEASED, AND ANNE M. KIMMELL, EXECUTRIX PLAINTIFFS
v.
CAREGIVERS SERVICES, L.L.C. D/B/A COMFORT KEEPERS DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION [5] TO REMAND

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT are Plaintiffs Estate of William M. Montgomery, Deceased, and Anne M. Kimmell, Executrix's (“Plaintiffs”) Motion [5] to Remand. Having considered the parties' submissions, the record as a whole, and relevant legal authority, the Court finds that it possesses subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332. The Motion is not well taken and should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Estate of William M. Montgomery, Deceased, and Anne M. Kimmell, Executrix (“Plaintiffs”), filed this action on April 10, 2018, in the Circuit Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, First Judicial District, Cause Number A2401-18-81. Compl. [1-2] at 3. The Complaint advances causes of action for negligence and breach of contract and seeks damages for: (1) a broken left ankle; (2) a broken right tibia; (3) contusions to head and shoulder; (4) pain and suffering; (5) a shortened life with poor quality; (6) extensive hospital and other consequential bills; and (7) other damages to be shown at trial. Id. at 5-7.

         Defendant Caregivers Services, L.L.C. d/b/a Comfort Keepers (“Defendant”) removed the case on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Notice of Removal [1] at 1-3. The Notice of Removal asserts that the parties are of diverse citizenship and that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum of $75, 000.00.[1] Id. Plaintiffs have filed a Motion [5] to Remand that does not deny that the parties are diverse, but argues that the amount in controversy does not exceed $74, 999.00. Mot. to Remand [8] at 1-4. Defendant's Response in Opposition [6] maintains that, based upon the nature of the damages pled which include extensive medical bills, removal was proper because it is apparent from the Complaint that Plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $75, 000.00. Resp. in Opp'n [6] at 1-4.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Removal standard

         28 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. § 1332(a)(1).

         Federal 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 1164.

         B. Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)

         The 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 the amount in controversy . . . except that-
(A) the notice of removal may assert the amount in controversy if the ...

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