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Scott v. Ford Motor Co.

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

January 20, 2015

OLIN C. SCOTT, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SONJA F. BIVINS, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the Court on Plaintiff Olin C. Scott, Jr.'s Motion to Remand. (Doc. 2). The motion, which has been fully briefed and is ripe for resolution, has been referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 72.2(c). Upon consideration of all matters presented, the undersigned RECOMMENDS, for the reasons stated herein, that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 2) be GRANTED.

I. Background Facts

Plaintiff, Olin C. Scott, Jr. ("Plaintiff"), commenced this personal injury action in the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama on May 19, 2014, against Defendant Ford Motor Company ("Ford") and various fictitious parties. (Doc. 1, att. 1 at 2). In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Ford is liable for fraud (Count One), fraud in the inducement (Count Two), breach of express warranty (Count Three), breach of implied warranty (Count Four), and violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301, et seq. (Count Five), for which he seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory, consequential, and punitive damages, as well as costs and attorney's fees. (Id. at 4-8).

According to Plaintiff, on December 31, 2013, he purchased a new Ford Escape SUV for $29, 700. (Id. at 2). At the time of the purchase, Ford represented to Plaintiff that the vehicle was free of defects and extended express warranties related to same. (Id. at 2-3). On February 16, 2014, Plaintiff was driving the vehicle on Interstate 10 when the engine caught fire and rendered the vehicle a total loss. (Id. at 3-4). Plaintiff notified Ford that he desired a buy-back of the vehicle, and Ford refused to tender the purchase price. (Id. at 4). According to Plaintiff, the 2013 Ford Escape has been the subject of no fewer than ten recalls. (Id.).

On September 8, 2014, Ford removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. In the Notice of Removal, Ford asserts the existence of subject matter jurisdiction under § 1332.[1] (Doc. 1 at 2). On September 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking to remand this action to state court. (Doc. 2). Plaintiff contends that Defendant has failed to establish that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Doc. 2 at 4). The motion has been fully briefed and is now ready for resolution.

II. Standard of Review

As set forth above, this action was removed by Defendant Ford pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446 on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1). Title 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides, in relevant part:

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 by the defendant or the 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).

In addition, 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) provides in part:

The notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is based, or within 30 days after the service of summons upon the defendant if such initial pleading has then been filed in court and is not required to be served on the defendant, whichever period is shorter
(3) Except as provided in subsection (c), if the case stated by the initial pleading is not removable, a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable.

It is well established that, "[i]n a removal action, the party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of establishing proof of jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence." Wiltew v. Parker, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101741, *1-2, 2009 WL 3615041, *2 (S.D. Ala. Oct. 30, 2009); Lowery v. Alabama Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1210 (11th Cir. 2007)). In a removal action, the burden is upon the defendant. Id .; see also Adventure Outdoors, Inc. v. Bloomberg, 552 F.3d 1290, 1294 (11th Cir. 2008) ("A removing defendant bears the burden of proving proper federal jurisdiction... [and] [a]ny doubts about the propriety of federal jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of remand to state court.")). In addition, "[b]ecause removal infringes upon state sovereignty and implicates central concepts of federalism, removal statutes must be construed narrowly, with all doubts resolved in favor of remand." Holloway v. Morrow, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10318, *5, 2008 WL 401305, *2 (S.D. Ala. Feb. 11, 2008) (citing University of South Alabama v. American Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 411 (11th Cir. 1999) (explaining that strict construction of removal statutes derives from "significant federalism concerns" raised by removal jurisdiction); see also Russell Corp. v. American Home Assur., Co., 264 F.3d 1040, 1050 (11th Cir. 2001) ("Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and there is a presumption against the exercise of federal jurisdiction, such that all uncertainties as to removal ...


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