United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
LAURA QUARLES, as the Administratrix of the Estate of Gregory Quarles, deceased, Plaintiff,
TENNESSEE STEEL HAULERS, INC., et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE
F. MOORER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), this case was referred to the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for review and
submission of a report with recommended findings of fact and
conclusions of law (Doc. 25, entered 7/11/17). Now pending
before the Court is the Motion for Remand (Doc. 19, filed
6/8/17). The motion is fully submitted and ripe for review.
For good cause shown, the Magistrate Judge recommends that
the Motion for Remand be DENIED.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND 
January 31, 2017, Gregory Quarles drove his Jeep Cherokee in
the right-hand lane of Interstate 85 Northbound near the
Chantilly exit in Montgomery, Alabama. At approximately 5:50
p.m. Defendant Walter O. Griffin, Jr. (“Griffin”)
and Defendant Pedro H. Fernandez (“Fernandez”)
collided while driving on Interstate 85 Southbound near the
Chantilly exit in Montgomery, Alabama. Fernandez was
driving an 18-wheeler on behalf of Defendant Trans Texas
Express (“Trans Texas”). The collision caused
Fernandez' vehicle to hit a 3rd vehicle. As a result of
the accident, the 18-wheeler operated by Fernandez overturned
into the median, lumber was scattered across the median, and
the 3rd vehicle also came to rest in the median. As a result
of that accident, significant cleanup had to take place which
also partially blocked traffic on the Northbound side of
Interstate 85. The cleanup included a number of first
responder vehicles and a hazardous materials truck.
two hours and forty minutes later around 8:31 p.m., Defendant
Joshua Faircloth (“Faircloth”) was driving an
18-wheeler on behalf of Tennessee Steel Haulers
(“TSH”) on Interstate 85 Northbound. Gregory
Quarles was driving his Jeep Cherokee in the right-hand lane
of I-85 Northbound. As a result of the cleanup due to the
first accident on the southbound side, traffic had slowed to
the point of almost a complete stop on the northbound side as
well. Faircloth ultimately hit Quarles which pushed his jeep
under the rear of another tractor trailer and pinned it
against a guardrail. The ensuing explosion and fire killed
Gregory Quarles. This lawsuit relates to the unfortunate and
tragic events that lead to Gregory Quarles untimely death.
Laura Quarles (“Quarles” or
“Plaintiff”), in her capacity as Administratrix
of the Estate of Gregory Quarles, filed this in the Circuit
Court of Montgomery County, Alabama on April 10, 2017.
See Doc. 1, Exhibit A, Complaint. This wrongful
death suit alleges five counts against defendants to include
negligence, wantonness, and negligent entrustment.
Id. Defendants are TSH, Faircloth, Griffin,
Fernandez, Trans Texas, and fictitious
defendants. The allegations against all Defendants
involved solely Alabama state law issues.
TSH filed a Notice of Removal in this court based on an
assertion of diversity jurisdiction. Doc. 1, generally.
Faircloth consented in writing to the removal. Doc. 1, Ex. H.
TSH avers that all remaining party defendants have been
fraudulently joined and thus their consent is not required.
Doc. 1 at p. 19-20. Regardless, Defendants Griffin,
Fernandez, and Trans Texas filed their joinders and consent
to removal. See Docs. 4-5. Defendant states in its
Notice of Removal that the case is properly removable under
28 U.S.C. §1441 because the United States District Court
now has original jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C.
the TSH 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 “true parties” when
considering Defendants Griffin, Fernandez, and Trans Texas
have been fraudulently joined. Quarles is an Alabama citizen.
TSH is a foreign corporation with its principal place of
business being located in Nashville, Tennessee. Faircloth is
a resident of Grantville, Georgia. Fernandez is a resident of
Laredo, Texas. Trans Texas is a foreign corporation with its
principal place of business being located in Laredo, Texas.
See Doc. 1 at p. 6; Doc. 1, Ex. A at p. 2. Griffin -
one defendant which has allegedly been fraudulently joined -
is a resident of Montgomery, Alabama which is the lynchpin of
this jurisdictional argument as his presence is what would
destroy diversity of citizenship among the parties.
8, 2017, Plaintiff timely filed her motion to remand.
See Doc. 19. In the motion to remand, Plaintiff
asserts Defendants Griffin, Fernandez, and Trans Texas were
not fraudulently joined and therefore this case was not
removable as there is not complete diversity of citizenship
since Plaintiff and Defendant Griffin are both Alabama
citizens. Plaintiff asserts claims of negligence and wanton
conduct against Griffin, Fernandez, and Trans Texas for
causing the first accident which she argues ultimately
resulted in the accident that killed Gregory Quarles.
Specifically, Plaintiff states the negligent and wanton
operation of their vehicles resulted in their collision
“which created a dangerous and hazardous road condition
in both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-85.”
Id. at p. 8. Further it “created an
environment where drivers would be distracted that resulted
in and was the proximate cause of the second accident that
killed Mr. Quarles.” Plaintiff further argues TSH and
Faircloth “have tacitly admitted that a dangerous
condition existed by pleading ‘sudden emergency' as
an affirmative defense in their Answer.” Id.
responded to the motion to remand arguing that Griffin,
Fernandez, and Trans Texas were fraudulently joined because
Plaintiff could not recover against them under Alabama law.
Doc. 22; see also Doc. 1. Therefore, if fraudulently
joined, the Court must disregard their citizenships when
considering the existence of diversity of citizenship. TSH
reiterates its arguments made in the Notice of Removal.
Specifically, that the question of
“foreseeability” is dispositive of the remand
also files a response in opposition to the motion to remand.
See Doc. 23. Griffin further argues that the
affidavit attached to the motion to remand does not contain
information based upon the personal knowledge of the affiant.
The video clips submitted were taken by an unknown passerby
at an unknown time before the second accident. Further,
Griffin argues that even if there were emergency vehicles on
the opposing side of the freeway, Alabama law requires
drivers to yield to emergency vehicles. Next, Griffin asserts
Alabama cases do not recognize a cause of action for
negligence/wantonness against a defendant who merely creates
a distraction “near” the roadway as opposed to
directly on the roadway itself. Finally, Griffin asserts the
substantial period of time breaks the natural and probable
consequences of the original act. Thus there is no proximate
causation as to the first accident.
review of the various pleadings, motions, and responses, the
Court determines the issues are fully briefed and no oral
arguments are necessary. Thus, the jurisdictional question is
ripe for review.