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Hamm v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

November 1, 2019

JERRY HAMM PLAINTIFF
v.
WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP, and ARAMARK CORPORATION DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This slip-and-fall action is before the Court for review of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I

         Procedural History

         On March 19, 2019, Jerry Hamm filed in the Circuit Court of Union County, Mississippi, a complaint against Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, and Aramark Corporation. Doc. #2. Hamm asserts a negligence claim based on unspecified injuries and “severe pain and suffering” allegedly caused by a fall at the Wal-Mart store in New Albany, Mississippi. Id. at 2. Hamm's complaint seeks recovery of past and future medical expenses, other compensatory damages, and post-judgment interest. Id. at 4.

         On May 17, 2019, Wal-Mart, relying on diversity jurisdiction, removed Hamm's state court action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. Doc. #1. In its notice of removal, Wal-Mart asserts the $75, 000 amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied because Hamm denied various requests for admission related to the value of his claim. Id. at 4- 6.

         On July 26, 2019, this Court, noting that a denial of a request for admission, standing alone, is insufficient to satisfy the amount-in-controversy requirement, [1] issued an order for Wal-Mart to show cause why this case should not be remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Doc.#25. Wal-Mart and Aramark[2] each filed a response to the show cause order. Docs. #27, #28.

         II

         Standard of Review

         “Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction[] may be removed … to the district court of the United States … embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). However, “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” Id. § 1447(c).

         Section 1332, the diversity jurisdiction statute, requires both complete diversity and an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000. Allen v. Walmart Stores, L.L.C., 907 F.3d 170, 183 (5th Cir. 2018). Complete diversity requires that “all persons on one side of the controversy be citizens of different states than all persons on the other side.” Moss v. Princip, 913 F.3d 508, 514 (5th Cir. 2019). Where, as here, “a complaint alleges an unspecified amount of damages, the party invoking diversity jurisdiction must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount-in-controversy requirement is met.” Brand Servs., L.L.C. v. Irex Corp., 909 F.3d 151, 155 (5th Cir. 2018). To satisfy this standard, a party may show that “it is facially apparent from the complaint that the claims exceed the jurisdictional amount” or may “rely on summary judgment-type evidence to ascertain the amount in controversy.” Id. (alterations omitted). “Any doubts regarding whether removal jurisdiction is proper should be resolved against federal jurisdiction.” Vantage Drilling Co. v. Hsin-Chi Su, 741 F.3d 535, 537 (5th Cir. 2014) (quotation marks omitted).

         III

         Analysis

         Aramark argues that the preponderance standard is satisfied under both the facially apparent test and the summary judgment evidence inquiry. Doc. #28 at 3-4. Wal-Mart argues only ...


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