United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
VICTORIA A. PULLUM, Plaintiff,
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
C. MARKS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is the Plaintiff's motion to
remand the case to the Circuit Court of Montgomery County,
filed on March 6, 2019. (Doc. 6). For the reasons that
follow, the motion to remand is due to be denied.
Defendant, Ford Motor Company, asserts that removal
jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1332, 1441 and 1446 because the parties are diverse and the
amount in controversy is over $75, 000. The Plaintiff,
Victoria Pullum, moves to remand, claiming that the Defendant
has not met its burden in establishing the amount in
Plaintiff, Victoria Pullum, sued Ford Motor Company
(“Ford”), the Defendant, for various claims
arising out of the sale of a new 2014 Ford Focus, equipped
with the “Powershift Transmission.” (Doc. 1-2, p.
1). Pullum alleges that the “Powershift
Transmission” contained several design and/or
manufacturing defects that caused operational problems with
the car, which created safety hazards and reduced the
car's value. Id. at 3. Pullum alleges that Ford
knew of these issues but failed to disclose them and further
that Ford distributed advertising material that contained
misrepresentations and omissions about the “Powershift
Transmission.” Id. at 2-3. Pullum asserts
claims of fraud, fraud in the inducement, breach of express
warranty, breach of implied warranty, and a violation of the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Id. at 4-8. Under each
of her state-law claims, Pullum requests punitive damages.
undisputed that, for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction,
Pullum is a citizen of Alabama, id. at 1, and that
Ford is a citizen of Delaware and Michigan, id. at
3. The parties dispute whether there is a sufficient amount
in controversy for diversity jurisdiction. The
Defendant's notice of removal points to Pullum's
complaint and argues that two features of the complaint
establish the requisite amount in controversy: (1) Pullum did
not expressly disclaim damages over $75, 000, and (2) Pullum
claims punitive damages against a large company. In her
motion to remand, Pullum argues that the Defendant must do
more. The Court disagrees.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute.”
Dudley v. Eli Lilley & Co., 778 F.3d 909, 911
(11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). “Except as
otherwise provided by Act of Congress, any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). When a
defendant removes a case on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, such defendant bears the burden to prove, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that there is a sufficient
amount in controversy. McGee v. Sentinel Offender Servs.,
LLC, 719 F.3d 1226, 1241 (11th Cir. 2013).
some cases, this burden requires the removing defendant to
provide additional evidence demonstrating that removal is
proper.” Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., 613
F.3d 1058, 1061 (11th Cir. 2013). “In other cases,
however, it may be facially apparent from the pleading itself
that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional
minimum, even when the complaint does not claim a specific
amount of damages.” Id. (citing Pretka v.
Kolter City Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d 744, 754 (11th Cir.
If a defendant alleges that removability is apparent from the
face of the complaint, the district court must evaluate
whether the complaint itself satisfies the defendant's
jurisdictional burden. In making this determination, the
district court is not bound by the plaintiff's
representations regarding its claim, nor must it assume that
the plaintiff is in the best position to evaluate the amount
of damages sought. . . .
Eleventh Circuit precedent permits district courts 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. Put simply, a district court need not
“suspend reality or shelve common sense in determining
whether the face of a complaint establishes the
jurisdictional amount.” Instead, courts may use their
judicial experience and common sense in determining whether
the case stated in a complaint meets federal jurisdictional
Id. at 1061-62 (quoting Pretka, 608 F.3d at
courts in this Circuit have required that a plaintiff
expressly disclaim entitlement to $75, 000 or more in the
complaint in order to avoid removal. See, e.g., Jones v.
Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 2013 WL 550419, *1 (N.D. Ala.
2013); Smith v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co., 868
F.Supp.2d 1333, 1335 (N.D. Ala. 2012). While such a
categorical approach has been rejected by other courts, the
absence of such stipulations is still a persuasive
consideration. See Townsend v. Win-Holt Equip.
Corp., 2018 WL 4608476, *2 (M.D. Ala. 2018)
(“Although a plaintiff's refusal to stipulate that
damages do not exceed $75, 000 does not alone establish ...