United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff Lacretia Renee Day, individually and as Mother and
Next Friend of S.K.D, II, a minor, (“Day”)
initiated this action via service of the summons and
complaint on May 26, 2016, in the Circuit Court of Jefferson
County, Alabama, against Defendant Kia Motors America, Inc.
(“Kia”). (Docs. 1-4 & 1-9 at 1). Kia
subsequently removed the action to this Court based on
alleged diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1332 and, alternatively, based on the Magnuson-Moss
Product Warranty Act (“MMPWA”), specifically 15
U.S.C. §2310(d), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331. (Doc. 1).
Day then moved to remand, contending Kia cannot meet its
burden of proving the amount in controversy to be $75, 000 or
greater to establish diversity jurisdiction, and that Kia
cannot establish the $50, 000 amount in controversy
requirement for the MMPWA. (Doc. 5). Kia opposes the motion
to remand. (Doc. 7). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for
review. (Doc. 5 & 7). Because Kia has established by a
preponderance of the evidence the amount in controversy is
$75, 000.00 or more, the motion to remand, (doc. 5), is
Standard of Review
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 (11th Cir.1994). Accordingly, this Court is
“empowered to hear only those cases within the judicial
power of the United States as defined by Article III of the
Constitution.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco
Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir.1999) (citing
Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th
Cir.1994)). “It is to be presumed that a cause lies
outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of
establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting
jurisdiction.” Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. When
the parties disagree on the court's jurisdiction,
questions or doubts are to be resolved in favor of returning
the matter to state court on a properly submitted motion to
remand. Burns, 31 F.3d at 1095. Construction of
removal statutes are based on federal law. Grubbs v. Gen.
Elec. Credit Corp., 405 U.S. 699, 705 (1972).
to the complaint, Day purchased a new 2013 Kia Optima for
approximately $25, 000.00. (Doc. ¶7). Day alleges there
were multiple defective conditions relating to the
vehicle's engine that impaired its “use, value[, ]
and safety.” (Id. at ¶¶11, 13). Day
alleges the vehicle ultimately “ignited in flames and
was destroyed.” (Id. at ¶11). As a result
of the alleged defective conditions and the vehicle burning,
Day seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
(Id. at 7). As to the compensatory damages sought,
Day alleges “actual, consequential[, ] and incidental
damages, including but not limited to money expended on the
purchase of the Vehicle, damages associated with the
inconvenience suffered as a result of the complete failure of
the vehicle to operate properly, the cost of repairs related
to the defects, loss of wages . . . .” (Id. at
¶22). Day also alleges she suffered and “continues
to suffer severe mental anguish and emotional distress”
because she was in the zone of danger when the vehicle caught
fire.” (Id. at ¶ 53). Day further alleges
she was “otherwise injured and damaged.”
complaint alleges claims under the Alabama Lemon Law, breach
of express and implied warranty, claims under Alabama Code
§ 7-2-714 for accepted and non-conforming goods, claims
under the MMPWA, and Alabama Extended Manufacturer's
Liability Doctrine (“AEMLD”) claims for the
allegedly defective design and manufacture of the vehicle.
(See doc. 1-4).
well as the minor plaintiff, S.K.D., II, is an individual
citizen of the State of Alabama. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶6-7).
Kia is a foreign corporation, incorporated in the State of
California with its principal place of business in the State
of California. (Id. at ¶8).
establish diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1332, Kia must demonstrate (1) every plaintiff is
diverse from every defendant, Triggs v. John Crump
Toyota, Inc., 154 F.3d 1284, 1287 (11th Cir. 1998), and
(2) the amount in controversy is $75, 000.00 or more. See
e.g., Pretka v. Kolter City Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d
744, 752 (11th Cir. 2010). The parties do not dispute there
is diversity of citizenship; however, Day contends Kia cannot
meet its burden of establishing the amount of controversy to
be at least $75, 000.00. (See doc. 5 at 3-4).
Day's state court complaint alleges unspecified damages,
Kia, the removing party, bears the burden of establishing the
jurisdictional amount by a preponderance of the evidence.
Pretka, 608 F.3d at 752 (citing Lowery v. Ala.
Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1207 (11th Cir. 2007);
Tapscott v. MS Dealer Service Corp., 77 F.3d 1353,
1357 (11th Cir.1996), overruled on other grounds,
Cohen v. Office Depot, Inc., 204 F.3d 1069 (11th
Cir.2000). In this assessment, the district court “need
not suspend reality or shelve common sense.” Roe v.
Michelin North America, Inc., 613 F.3d 1058,
1061(11th Cir. 2010). Instead, this Court may use
“reasonable deductions, reasonable inferences, or other
reasonable extrapolations from the pleadings to determine
whether it is facially apparent that the case is
removable.” Id. The court is not “bound
by the plaintiff's representations regarding its claim,
nor must it assume that the plaintiff is in the best position
to evaluate the amount of damages sought.” Id.
Furthermore, the court must consider the request for and
availability of punitive damages unless it is apparent to a
legal certainty that such cannot be recovered. See, e.g.,
Holley Equip. Co. v. Credit Alliance Corp., 821 F.2d
1531, 1535 (11th Cir. 1987); Mitchell v. Carrington Mort.
Serv., L.L.C., Case No. 5:16-cv-00833-CLS, 2016 WL
3570373, *3 (N.D. Ala. July 1, 2016).
Day's complaint does not specify the amount of damages
sought, it alleges “actual, consequential and
incidental damages, including but not limited to money
expended on the purchase of the Vehicle [$25, 000], damages
associated with the inconvenience suffered as a result of the
complete failure of the vehicle to operate properly, the cost
of repairs related to these defects, loss of wages . . .
.” (See doc. 1-4 at ¶22). Day also
alleges she suffered and “continues to suffer severe
mental anguish and emotional distress” because she was
in the zone of danger when the vehicle caught fire. (See
Id. at ¶53). In addition, Day alleges she was
“otherwise injured and damaged.” (See
id.). As a result of the alleged defective conditions
and vehicle burning, Day also seeks punitive damages
(pursuant the AEMLD). (Id. at 7).
apparent from the face of the complaint that the
jurisdictional amount has been met. The complaint demands
compensatory damages well-above the $25, 000 purchase price
of the vehicle and further demands punitive damages, which,
as this Court has explained, may be “slightly more than
double the compensatory damages claim.” Blackwell
v. Great Am. Fin. Res., Inc., 620 F.Supp.2d 1289, 1291
(N.D. Ala. 2009). The potential value of Day's claims
exceeds $75, 000.
argument that Kia has offered “no evidence that the
amount in controversy . . . is $75, 000 or more other than
the bald assertions and vague generalities about damages
claimed” is without merit. (Doc. 5 at 4). On a motion
for remand the court is not evaluating evidence. Instead, as
Day points out in her motion, the task at hand is to evaluate
“the document received by the defendant from the
plaintiff[, ]” here the state court complaint,
“and determine whether that document and the notice
of removal unambiguously establish federal
jurisdiction.” (Doc. 5 at 3 (citing Lowery,
483 F.3d 1213). That is exactly what this Court has done.
Furthermore, Day's motion to remand fails to account for
her request for punitive damages or her failure to disclaim
entitlement to more than $ 75, 000.00, see Smith v. State
Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 868 F.Supp.2d 1333, 1335 (N.D.
Ala. 2012) (holding that, to avoid removal, plaintiffs who
want to pursue claims against diverse parties in state court
seeking unspecified damages of various kinds, such as
punitive damages and emotional distress, must in ...