United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
G. CORNELIUS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
court has before it Plaintiff's motion to remand based on
the alleged failure of Defendants James Darrell Bailey
(“Bailey”) and Carnes Trucking Company, Inc.
(“Carnes”) to establish the requisite amount in
controversy for diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 6). The motion
has been fully briefed and is now under submission. (Docs.
20-22). For the following reasons, the motion is due to be
Berdina Hawes initially brought this action in the Circuit
Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, against Defendants
Bailey, Carnes, and several fictitious defendants. (Doc.
1-1). The complaint relates to a January 30, 2017 motor
vehicle accident. (Id. at 5-6). The two-vehicle
accident involved a 2010 Dodge Charger operated by Hawes and
a 2016 Freightliner tractor trailer operated by Bailey and
owned by Carnes. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges Bailey,
while acting within the line and scope of his employment with
Carnes, “permitted, allowed or caused” the
tractor trailer “to collide with the motor vehicle
driven by the Plaintiff, sideswiping the Plaintiff's
vehicle, [and] knocking Plaintiff's vehicle off the road
into a gutter.” (Id. at 6).
alleges Defendant Bailey proximately caused the accident
through his negligent and/or wanton operation of the tractor
trailer. (Id. at 5-8). She seeks to impose vicarious
liability on Defendant Carnes for Bailey's alleged
tortious conduct through claims for respondeat
superior and agency. (Id. at 11-13). Plaintiff
also seeks to impose direct liability against Defendant
Carnes, alleging it negligently entrusted the commercial
vehicle to Bailey when it knew or should have known due to
Bailey's “inexperience, and/or history of
negligence, that [Bailey] was not capable of responsibly
operating the vehicle.” (Id. at 8-9).
Plaintiff further alleges Defendant Carnes negligently
investigated, hired, trained, supervised, and/or retained
Bailey. (Id. at 9-10). Plaintiff seeks to recover an
award of unspecified compensatory damages for injuries,
bruises and contusions, physical pain, mental anguish,
medical treatment, medical expenses, permanent injury,
permanent impairment, and “disability to the body as a
whole, ” as well as an award of unspecified punitive
damages. (Id. at 7-13).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction authorized to hear
only those cases falling within “one of three types of
subject matter jurisdiction: (1) jurisdiction under a
specific statutory grant; (2) federal question jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or (3) diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).”
PTA-FLA, Inc. v. ZTE USA, Inc., 844 F.3d 1299, 1305
(11th Cir. 2016). A defendant may remove an action initially
filed in state court to federal court if the action is one
over which the federal court has original jurisdiction. 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a). “[A] defendant seeking to remove
a case to a federal court must file in the federal forum a
notice of removal ‘containing a short and plain
statement of the grounds for removal.'” Dart
Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547,
553 (2014) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a)).
notice of removal claims this court may exercise diversity
jurisdiction over this action. (Doc. 1). Diversity
jurisdiction exists if there is complete diversity of
citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). It is
undisputed diversity of citizenship exists. Plaintiff's
motion seeks remand because she contends Defendants have
failed to establish the requisite amount in controversy.
as here, the plaintiff has not pled a specific amount of
damages, the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the
jurisdictional requirement.” Pretka v. Kolter City
Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d 744, 752 (11th Cir. 2010)
(quotations and citations omitted). In some cases, this
burden requires the removing defendant to provide additional
evidence demonstrating that removal is proper. See
id. When this method is used, a removing defendant may
rely on its own affidavits, declarations, or other
documentation to establish the amount in controversy.
McGee v. Sentinel Offender Servs., LLC, 719 F.3d
1236, 1241 (11th Cir. 2013) (citing Pretka, 608 F.3d
at 755). However, “under any manner of proof, the
jurisdictional facts that support removal must be judged at
the time of the removal, and any post-petition affidavits are
allowable only if relevant to that period of time.”
Sierminski v. Transouth Financial Corp., 216 F.3d
945, 949 (11th Cir. 2000).
defendant alleges removability is apparent from the face of
the complaint, the court must evaluate whether the complaint
itself satisfies the defendant's jurisdictional burden.
Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., 613 F.3d 1058, 1061
(11th Cir. 2010). The court is not bound by the
plaintiff's representations regarding her claim, nor must
it assume the plaintiff is in the best position to evaluate
the amount of damages sought. Pretka, 608 F.3d. at
771 (citations omitted). Eleventh Circuit precedent permits
the court to make “reasonable deductions, reasonable
inferences, or other reasonable extrapolations” from
the pleadings to determine whether it is facially apparent
that a case is removable. Id. at 754. In other
words, the court does not need to “suspend reality or
shelve common sense in determining whether the face of a
complaint . . . establishes the jurisdictional amount.”
Id. at 770 (quoting Roe v. Michelin N. Am.,
Inc., 637 F.Supp.2d 995, 999 (M.D. Ala. 2009)). Instead,
the court “may use its judicial experience and common
sense in determining whether the case stated in a complaint
meets federal jurisdictional requirements.”
Roe, 613 F.3d at 1062. That being said, any doubt
about the existence of federal jurisdiction “should be
resolved in favor of remand to state court.” City
of Vestavia Hills v. Gen. Fid. Ins. Co., 676 F.3d 1310,
1313 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am.
Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 411 (11th Cir. 1999)).
contend the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Doc. 1).
Defendants point to Plaintiff's claim for compensatory
damages for injuries, bruises and contusions, physical pain,
mental anguish, medical treatment, medical expenses,
permanent injury, permanent impairment, and disability to the
body as a whole. (Id. at 9-10; Doc. 20 at 6, 8).
Additionally, Defendants highlight Plaintiff seeks an award
of punitive damages against both Defendants based upon
allegations of wantonness. (Doc. 1 at 11; Doc. 20 at 8).
court finds Defendants have established the jurisdictional
amount by a preponderance of the evidence. In her initial
disclosures, Plaintiff claims she incurred $22, 676.96 in
medical expenses through September 18, 2017. (Doc. 20-1 at 5).
Her medical records collectively demonstrate her alleged
injuries had not healed as of her last treatment in September
2017. (See Docs. 21-4, 21-6 & 21-7). There is no
evidence Plaintiff has reached maximum medical improvement,
and Plaintiff reserved the right to supplement her initial
disclosures with regard to her medical expenses. (Doc. 20-1
at 5). Additionally, the last treatment records reflect the
doctor “discussed the role of surgery” with
Plaintiff. (Doc. 21-7).
also alleges damages for “injuries, physical pain and
mental anguish, ” “bruises and contusions to her
body, ” “permanent impairment, ” and
“disability to the body as a whole.” (Doc. 1-1 at
7-8). These damages are separate and apart from the $22,
676.96 in medical expenses. ...