United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
For Regina Harris, Donald Harris, Plaintiffs: Jerry Trapp Crowell, III, John Robert Potter, Seth Bryant Grissom, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Mann & Potter, PC, Birmingham, AL.
For Esfandiyar Aghababaei, Defendant: Jessica Pitts Trotman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rushton, Stakely, Johnston & Garrett, PA, Montgomery, AL; Paul McGee James, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Rushton Stakely Johnston & Garrett PC, Montgomery, AL.
For Liberty Mutual Group, Inc., Defendant: Albry Joe Peddy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Smith Spires & Peddy, PC, Birmingham, AL.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
This cause is before the court on a Motion to Remand (Doc. # 8) filed on December
17, 2014 by Plaintiffs Regina and Donald Harris. Also before the court are the Response to the Motion (Doc. # 12) filed by Defendants Esfandiyar Aghababaei and Narinder Singh d/b/a Sidhu Trucking (collectively, " Defendants" ) and Plaintiffs' Reply thereto (Doc. # 13). Defendant Liberty Mutual Group (" Liberty Mutual" ) has filed a Motion to opt out of further participation in this lawsuit (Doc. # 7). The Plaintiffs also filed a Motion to Dismiss Liberty Mutual as a party (Doc. # 14) the same day they filed their Reply, on January 21, 2015.
The Plaintiffs filed their original state court Complaint on October 8, 2014, in the Circuit Court of Bullock County, Alabama. The Complaint alleges claims arising out of an automobile accident for negligence; wanton and reckless conduct; negligent, reckless and/or wanton violations of rules of the road; negligent entrustment; and an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim with regard to Liberty Mutual Group (Doc. # 1-1 at 8-11). Defendant Aghababaei timely removed the case to this court on November 25, 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, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (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, 104 S.Ct. 1600, 80 L.Ed.2d 131 (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 July 18, 2014, the Plaintiffs were traveling by automobile on Highway 110 in Bullock County, Alabama. They were struck by a vehicle driven by Defendant Aghababaei, who was operating the vehicle in the scope of his employment as a driver for Defendant Sidhu Trucking. The Plaintiffs both sustained serious physical injuries.
" 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 ...