United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
F. MOORER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action is assigned to the undersigned magistrate judge to
conduct all proceedings and order entry of judgment by
consent of all the parties (Docs. 12-13, filed 11/6/17) and
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending before the Court is
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 7, filed
9/20/17). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for
review. Having considered the motion, response, and relevant
law, the Court finds the motion to remand is due to be
Facts and Procedural History
Rebecca Beasley (“Beasley” or
“Plaintiff”) filed this a complaint in Barbour
County, Alabama Circuit Court on July 17, 2017. See
Doc. 1, Exhibit 4, Complaint. Plaintiff's lawsuit alleges
counts of Breach of Contract, Conversion, and Libel and/or
Slander against Defendant Blake Gumprecht
(“Gumprecht” or “Defendant”).
Id. The Complaint does not provide for a specific
amount of damages sought, but requests “both
compensatory and punitive damages as the Court may deem just
and appropriate, along with her costs in this action.”
Id. at p. 4.
August 22, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal in this
court based on an assertion of diversity jurisdiction.
See Doc. 1, generally. Defendant states in his
Notice of Removal that the case is properly removable under
28 U.S.C. §1441 because the United States District Court
has original jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C.
Defendant asserts diversity jurisdiction exists in this case
because the amount in controversy exceeds the $75, 000
jurisdictional threshold and complete diversity of
citizenship exists among the parties. Plaintiff is a citizen
of Alabama and Defendant is a citizen of North Dakota.
timely filed her motion to remand on September 20, 2017.
See Doc. 7. In the motion to remand, Plaintiff
asserts the amount in controversy does not meet the
jurisdictional threshold. Concurrent with the motion to
remand, Plaintiff also filed a Stipulation of Amount in
Controversy wherein she stated she does not seek any amount
in excess of $74, 999.00 exclusive of interest and costs.
See Doc. 6. Plaintiff further asserts that
Defendant's counterclaims cannot be used to establish the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.
timely responded to the motion to remand on October 12, 2017.
See Doc. 11. In the response, Defendant argues that
the amount being negotiated was between $70, 000 and $120,
000. Defendant bases this number on the email exchange
between Plaintiff's counsel and Defendant which included
the counterclaims. See Doc. 1, Exhibit 2. Further,
Defendant states he “alleges a complete loss of his
business investment of [$70, 000.00] plus incidental and
consequential damages, as well as punitive damages for his
count of Promissory Fraud.” See Doc. 11 at p.
2. Defendant also attaches to the response to remand three
exhibits: (1) an asset sale agreement, (2) Building Sale
Agreement, and (3) Barbour Tax Assessment. See Doc.
11, Exhibits A-C. Per Exhibit C, the Barbour County Tax
Assessment attached values the property and building at $49,
100.00. In Exhibit A, the sales price for the assets listed
in the section are $50, 000.00. In the Exhibit B, the sales
price of the property was for $20, 000.00. Next Defendant
argues the Court must consider the unspecified damages amount
also includes a punitive damage claim. Finally, Defendant
argues that the stipulation of amount in controversy has no
effect on this Court's jurisdiction and is solely an
attempt to manipulate the forum.
motion is fully brief and ripe for review of whether this
Court has diversity jurisdiction.
Standard of Review
courts have a strict duty to exercise jurisdiction conferred
on them by Congress. Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716, 116 S.Ct. 1712, 1720, 135
L.Ed.2d 1 (1996). However, federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction and possess only that power authorized
by Constitution and statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673,
1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994); Burns v. Windsor Insurance
Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (1994). Defendant, as the party
removing this action, have the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction. See Leonard v. Enterprise Rent a Car,
279 F.3d 967, 972 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v.
Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1318 (11th Cir. 2001)).
Further, the federal removal statutes must be construed
narrowly and doubts about removal must be resolved in favor
of remand. Allen v. Christenberry, 327 F.3d 1290,
1293 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Diaz v. Sheppard, 85
F.3d 1502, 1505 (11th Cir. 1996)); Burns, 31 F.3d at
1095 (citations omitted).
Discussion and Analysis
this lawsuit began in state court, the court's
jurisdiction depends on the propriety of removal. Diversity
jurisdiction exists where there is diversity of citizenship
and the amount in controversy exceeds $ 75, 000, exclusive of
interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Section 1446(b)
then answers the question of when an action is removable,
setting forth the preconditions for removal in two types of
cases: (1) those removable on the basis of an initial
pleading; and (2) those that later become removable on the
basis of “a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order
or other paper.” The notice of removal must “be
filed within thirty days after the receipt by the defendant
… of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the
claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is
based.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b).
party removing a case to federal court based on diversity of
citizenship bears the burden of establishing the citizenship
of the parties.” Rolling Greens MHP, L.P. v.
Comcast SCH Holdings L.L.C., 374 F.3d 1020, 1022 (11th
Cir. 2004). Therefore, removal jurisdiction based upon
diversity requires: (1) a complete diversity of citizenship
between the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s) and (2)
satisfaction of the amount in controversy requirement.
Further, “[f]or purposes of removal under this chapter,
the citizenship of defendants sued under fictitious names
shall be ...