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Peeples v. Ditech Financial LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

November 7, 2017

NICKELS BOWEN PEEPLES, Plaintiff,
v.
DITECH FINANCIAL LLC and MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         On August 4, 2017, Defendants Ditech Financial LLC (“Ditech”) and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) (collectively “Defendants”) removed this case to the Northern District of Alabama. (Doc. 1). On that day, Defendants also filed a Motion To Dismiss. (Doc. 3). In response, the Court, on September 6, 2017, took two actions. First, the Court stayed the case until ruling on the pending Motion To Remand. (Doc. 10). Second, the Court issued an Order Requiring Repleader within 14 days because Plaintiff's Complaint was a “shotgun pleading.” (Doc. 11).

         Now before the Court is Plaintiff Peeples's Motion To Remand (the “Remand Motion”) filed on September 5, 2017. (Doc. 8). Defendants responded on September 15, 2017. (Doc. 12). In Defendants' response, they moved to stay ruling on the Remand Motion until after Plaintiff files an amended complaint, and they also argued their opposition to the Motion. (Id. at 1). To date, Plaintiff has neither filed a new complaint, nor has he replied to Defendants' response. Accordingly, this Motion is ripe for review.

         The issue presented is whether this case meets the amount in controversy requirement needed to confer federal jurisdiction. For the reasons herein stated, this Court determines that it does. Accordingly, the Remand Motion is DENIED.

         II. Relevant Factual and Procedural Background

         This case arises from a dispute over a home foreclosure. (Doc. 1-2 at 4-7). The Complaint states nine counts for relief. (Id. at 7-14). It does not explicitly state a specific dollar amount in controversy. (See generally id.). The case was originally filed in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Alabama, on July 5, 2017. (Id. at 3). The complaint states multiple counts. (Id. at 7-14). Among those claims are quiet title, negligence, wantonness, wrongful foreclosure, slander of title, placed in a false light, defamation/libel/slander, and declaratory relief. (Id.).

         Defendants Ditech and MERS removed this case to the Northern District of Alabama on August 4, 2017. (Doc. 1 at 1). The basis for removal was diversity jurisdiction. (Id. at 2-6). Although the Defendants do not state as much in their Notice of Removal, this case was removed under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1). That statute states:

(b) Requirements; generally.--(1) 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.
(2)(A) When a civil action is removed solely under section 1441(a), all defendants who have been properly joined and served must join in or consent to the removal of the action.
(B) Each defendant shall have 30 days after receipt by or service on that defendant of the initial pleading or summons described in paragraph (1) to file the notice of removal.
(C) If defendants are served at different times, and a later-served defendant files a notice of removal, any earlier-served defendant may consent to the removal even though that earlier-served defendant did not previously initiate or consent to removal.
(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.

28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Defendants filed the Notice of Removal within 30 days after being served. (Doc. 1 at 7); (see also Doc. 1-2 at 21-22). They base their removal on the complaint filed in state court, not a later “pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may be first ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable.” (See generally Doc. 1-2); see 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3). This means that it is a “first paragraph removal case.” See Smith v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc., No. 7:14-cv-161-SLB, 2014 WL 4793445 at *2 (N.D. Ala. Sept. 25, 2014).[1], [2]

         Defendants allege complete diversity of citizenship. (Doc. 1 at 3-4). Defendants also allege that this case meets the amount in controversy requirement. (Id. at 4). However, Plaintiff argues that this case does ...


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