United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
(Doc. # 10), filed on February 23, 2017. The Motion (Doc. #
10) has been fully briefed (Docs. #12 & #13) and is
properly under submission. A hearing was conducted on this
matter on April 10, 2017. For the reasons outlined below, the
Motion (Doc. # 10) is due to be denied.
Background and Relevant Facts
Michael Higgins initiated this lawsuit against Defendant
United States Steel Corporation on November 28, 2016, in the
Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, Bessemer
Division. (Doc. # 1-1). Defendant filed a Notice of Removal
(Doc. #1) and an Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. #
2) on January 23, 2017. Plaintiff then filed a Motion to
Remand (Doc. # 10) on February 23, 2017.
suit arises out of conduct which occurred while Plaintiff was
an employee of Defendant. Plaintiff was employed as a
Maintenance Supervisor at United States Steel Corporation.
(Doc. # 1-1 at ¶ 4). At some point while he was
employed, Plaintiff suffered multiple foot injuries.
(Id. at ¶ 5). Plaintiff alleges Defendant
treated him with “open and inappropriate
ridicule” as a result of his injuries. (Id. at
¶ 7). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that employees of
Defendant: (1) called Plaintiff “Downsey”
publicly because a plant manager believed that Plaintiff had
the appearance of someone with Down Syndrome, called
Plaintiff “pussyfoot, ” and called Plaintiff
other names; (2) made harassing phone calls to
Plaintiff's family; (3) openly ridiculed Plaintiff's
alleged medical conditions; (4) damaged Plaintiff's work
station; and (5) placed dirty urinal pads in Plaintiff's
work station. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-21).
on this conduct, Plaintiff brings a single claim against
Defendant for the tort of outrage. (Id. at ¶
22). Plaintiff's Complaint seeks compensatory damages for
his emotional distress, as well as punitive damages, court
costs, and any other equitable relief available.
(Id. at p. 9).
Standard of Review
long been recognized that federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction. Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31
F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994). Indeed, federal courts may
only exercise jurisdiction conferred upon them by Congress.
Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716
(1996). Anytime a “federal court acts outside its
statutory subject matter jurisdiction, it violates the
fundamental constitutional precept of limited federal
power.” Uni. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting Victory
Carriers, Inc. v. Law, 404 U.S. 202, 212 (1971)).
any action filed in state court, over which a district court
would have original jurisdiction, “may be removed by
the defendant or 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). The burden of establishing subject matter
jurisdiction for the purpose of a valid removal to this court
is squarely on the removing party. Friedman v. N.Y. Life
Ins. Co., 410 F.3d 1350, 1353 (11th Cir. 2005). Federal
courts strictly construe removal statutes and resolve all
doubts in favor of remand. Miedema v. Maytag Corp.,
450 F.3d 1322, 1328-30 (11th Cir. 2006).
instant case, Defendant's removal is premised on
diversity jurisdiction, which requires complete diversity of
citizenship among the parties and an amount in controversy
that exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. There is no
dispute in this case that the parties are of diverse
citizenship; the sole issue is whether the suit
involves the requisite amount in controversy. (See
Doc. # 10).
case such as this one, where a plaintiff has not demanded a
specific amount of damages in the initial pleading,
“the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the
jurisdictional requirement.” Williams v. Best Buy
Co., Inc., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001).
“[A] removing defendant is not required to the prove
the amount in controversy beyond all doubt or to banish all
uncertainty about it, ” Pretk a v. Kolter City
Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d 744, 754 (11th Cir. 2010);
rather, it must prove that “the amount in controversy
more likely than not exceeds the jurisdictional
requirement.” Tapscott v. MS Dealer Serv.
Corp., 77 F.3d 1353, 1357 (11th Cir. 1996) (emphasis
argues that Defendant has failed to meet this burden with
respect to the amount in controversy in this case. For its
part, Defendant notes that “courts may use their
judicial experience and common sense in determining whether
the case stated in a complaint meets federal jurisdictional
requirements." Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc.,
613 F.3d 1058, 1062 (11th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, Defendant
highlights (1) the type of claim Plaintiff raises
(i.e., a tort of outrage claim that seeks
compensatory, emotional distress, and punitive damages) and
(2) the value of similar cases. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 17,
18 (citing Continental Casualty Ins. Co. v.
McDonald, 567 So.2d 1208 (Ala. 1990) (jury returned a
verdict of $750, 000 where the plaintiff alleged the tort of
outrage involving workers' compensation benefits);
Travelers Indemnity Co. of Illinois v. Griner, 809
So.2d 808, 809 (Ala. 2001) (jury returned a verdict of $500,
000 total damages in a tort of outrage case))).
has met its burden, and has demonstrated by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy more likely
than not exceeds the jurisdictional requirement. A defendant
may satisfy its burden by submitting additional evidence, or
“other paper, ” to demonstrate that the
jurisdictional minimum is met. See Roe, 613 F.3d at
1061; Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 493 F.3d 1184, 1218
(11th Cir. 2007). While Defendant has not presented
“other paper” evidence, it is instructive that
Plaintiff has at no point argued that he seeks less than $75,
000. Moreover, when asked on the record at the hearing on
this motion whether ...