United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
BRIAN D. SIMMONS, et al., Plaintiffs,
TIGER EXPRESS TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON, Senior District Judge.
This cause is before the court on a Motion to Remand (Doc. # 3) filed on August 27, 2014, by the Plaintiffs: Brian D. Simmons, Krystal N. Simmons, Carrie D. McCarroll, Leonise E. Simmons, and Brian D. Simmons, Jr., by and through his mother and next of kin, Krystal N. Simmons ("Plaintiffs"). Defendant's Response and Objection to the Motion to Remand (Doc. # 5) was filed on September 17, 2014, and Plaintiffs filed an Objection ("Reply") (Doc. # 7) on September 24, 2014.
Plaintiffs filed their original state court Complaint on April 4, 2014, in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama. It alleges claims for negligence, wantonness, negligent entrustment, respondeat superior and agency, and administrative presumption. Defendant timely answered the Complaint on May 5, 2014, but did not file its Notice of Removal until August 11, 2014. Defendant alleged it had grounds for removal only upon a settlement demand letter from Plaintiffs' counsel dated July 19, 2014.
For the reasons to be discussed, the Motion to Remand is due to be GRANTED.
II. MOTION TO REMAND STANDARD
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375 (1994); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (1994); Wymbs v. Republican State Exec. Comm., 719 F.2d 1072, 1076 (11th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 465 U.S. 1103 (1984). As such, federal courts only have the power to hear cases that they have been authorized to hear by the Constitution or the Congress of the United States. See Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Because federal court jurisdiction is limited, the Eleventh Circuit favors remand of removed cases where federal jurisdiction is not absolutely clear. See Burns, 31 F.3d at 1095.
Because this case was originally filed in state court and removed to federal court, the Defendants bear the burden of proving that federal jurisdiction exists. Williams v. Best Buy Co., Inc., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001).
The Complaint alleges the following facts:
On or about November 10, 2012, Plaintiffs were all riding in a vehicle driven by Plaintiff Brian D. Simmons on Interstate 85 in Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama. Plaintiffs' vehicle was struck by a vehicle owned by Defendant. As a result of the collision, Plaintiffs sustained "significant and permanent physical injuries and disabilities."
"Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, " a defendant may remove from state court any civil case that could have originally been brought in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). District courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the action is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. "Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity; every ...