United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HAROLD ALBRITTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
cause is before the court on a Motion to Remand, filed by the
Plaintiff, Ronald Steube on January 3, 2017 (Doc. #3).
Plaintiff originally filed a Complaint in this case in the
Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama. The Plaintiff
brings two claims, alleging that the Defendants failed to pay
the Plaintiff's mileage costs for travel to and from his
medical and rehabilitation providers and that the Defendants
concealed that they were required by Alabama regulatory law
to notify the Plaintiff of his entitlement to reimbursement
for these expenses. In Count I, the Plaintiff relies on Ala.
Code §25-5-577, and in Count II on Section 480-5-5-.36(2)
of the Alabama Administrative Code.
Ronald Steube, is a citizen of Alabama. Defendant Virco is
incorporated in Delaware and has its principle place of
business in California. Defendant CNA ClaimsPlus, Inc. is
incorporated in Nevada and has its principle place of
business in Illinois.
December 29, 2016, the Defendants filed a Notice of Removal,
stating that this court has diversity jurisdiction in this
reasons to be discussed, the Motion to Remand is due to be
MOTION TO REMAND STANDARD
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375
(1994); Burns v. Windsor Insurance Co., 31 F.3d
1092, 1095 (1994); Wymbs v. Republican State Executive
Committee, 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.
federal district court may exercise subject matter
jurisdiction over a civil action in which only state law
claims are alleged if the civil action arises under the
federal court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The diversity statute confers
jurisdiction on the federal courts in civil actions
"between citizens of different states, " in which
the jurisdictional amount is met. Id. There is,
however, a prohibition against the removal of cases which
would otherwise meet the diversity jurisdiction requirements
when the cases arise under the workmen's compensation
laws of a state. 28 U.S.C. §1445(c) (stating “A
civil action in any State court arising under the
workmen's compensation laws of such State may not be
removed to any district court of the United States.”).
The purposes behind the enactment of §1445(c) are to
stem the flood of workers' compensation cases removed to
federal court and to restrict the cases to state court
because they involve purely local disputes implicating no
federal concerns. See Reed v. Heil Co., 206 F.3d
1055, 1060 n.3 (11th Cir. 2000); Pettaway v. Wayne
Poultry Co., a Division of Continental Grain Co., 791
F.Supp. 290, 291 (M.D. Ala. 1992).
Plaintiff, Steube, has moved to remand this case to state
court on the ground that his claims arise under the
workmen's compensation laws of Alabama and, therefore,
cannot be removed to federal court under 28 U.S.C.
§1445. Although the Defendants did not acknowledge it in
removing the case to this court, the Defendants now concede
that Count I is a workers' compensation claim and due to
be remanded. They continue to maintain, however, that Count
II is a fraud claim and should be severed and remanded.
Count II, Steube argues that his claim is for violation of
Chapter 480-5-5-.36(2) of the Alabama Administrative Code,
which requires Defendants to notify the injured employee in
writing that he is entitled to reimbursement for expenses as
stated in the workers' compensation laws of Alabama.
Steube also points to a different portion of the same
regulation which provides that disputes regarding
reimbursement for incurred expenses should be first directed
to the employer and then employees may contact the
workers' compensation division if there are problems with
payment and contact with the employer is fruitless.
§480-5-5-.36 (5). Steube argues that because the Workers
Compensation Act provides a mechanism for an employee to seek
assistance, the present dispute arises under the workers'
compensation laws. Steube contends that state workers'
compensation law is an element of the claim in Count II and
the source of the duty imposed on the Defendants.
face, Steube's claim in Count II has a relationship with
workers' compensation laws because the count specifically
invokes a section of the Alabama Administrative Code
regarding workers' compensation to establish a duty to
Steube. The question before this court, therefore, is whether
that is sufficient for the claim to arise under workers'
compensation law. That inquiry is decided using federal, ...