United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
DARRYL L. BROWN, Plaintiff,
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION ON MOTION FOR REMAND
RUSS WALKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Darryl L. Brown filed this action against Defendant Ford
Motor Company in the Autauga County Circuit Court of the
State of Alabama on January 29, 2019. Brown served Ford with
the complaint in this action effective February 1, 2019.
to Brown's allegations, in 2011 Ford designed,
manufactured and marketed a model F-250 pickup truck with
what it described as a low-emission, high-fuel-efficiency,
“Power Stroke” diesel engine. Brown maintains
that, notwithstanding Ford's representations regarding
the Power Stroke diesel engine, the engine was neither less
polluting nor more fuel efficient than other comparably-sized
diesel engines. Ford continued manufacturing and marketing
F-250 pickup trucks with the Power Stroke diesel engine, and,
Brown alleges, knowingly continued to misrepresent the
engine's emissions and efficiency characteristics from
2011 until 2017. In 2014, Brown purchased a used 2013 F-250
pickup truck manufactured by Ford with the Power Stroke
diesel engine (the “vehicle”) from a used car
dealer for a purchase price of approximately $50, 000.
out of the foregoing, Brown alleges that Ford is liable to
him under Alabama law for fraud, fraud in the inducement,
breach of express warranty, and breach of implied warranty,
and under federal law for violation of the Magnuson-Moss
Warranty Act. In connection with his state law claims, Brown
seeks an award of his actual monetary damages in unspecified
amounts, punitive damages in unspecified amounts, and
attorney fees and costs. In connection with his federal
claim, Brown seeks an award of his actual damages in an
unspecified amount expressly stipulated not to exceed $49,
000, as well as his attorney fees and costs.
March 4, 2019, Ford removed Brown's action to this court,
on the sole stated ground that this court can properly
exercise diversity jurisdiction over Brown's claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), based on the complete
diversity of the parties and the amount in controversy. In
support of its removal, Ford asserts that the amount in
controversy plainly exceeds the $75, 000 jurisdictional
threshold after Brown's prayer for unspecified punitive
damages is taken into account.
before the court is Brown's Motion for Remand (Doc. 6).
The undersigned has considered the motion and all of the
pleadings on file. For the reasons set forth below,
Brown's motion will be granted, and this action will be
remanded to the Autauga County Circuit Court for further
proceedings in that forum.
motion to remand [a] case on the basis of any defect other
than lack of subject matter jurisdiction must be made within
30 days after . . . notice of removal under section 28 U.S.C.
§]1446(a) [is filed]. If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c). On a motion for remand, the party
opposing remand has the burden to establish that removal was
proper. See Triggs v. John Crump Toyota, Inc., 154
F.3d 1284, 1287 n. 4 (11th Cir. 1998). The removal statute,
28 U.S.C. § 1441, is strictly construed against the
party seeking to establish grounds for removal, such that all
doubts about removal must be resolved in favor of remand.
See Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095
(11th Cir. 1994).
Removal premised on diversity jurisdiction
defendant removes an action from state court on the ground
that the federal court may properly exercise diversity
jurisdiction over the action, the defendant bears the burden
of establishing federal jurisdiction, including satisfaction
of the amount-in-controversy requirement as of the date of
removal. See Leonard v. Enterprise
Rent-A-Car, 279 F.3d 967, 972 (11th Cir. 2002). Where
the complaint does not specify a total amount in controversy,
the party seeking removal must prove by a preponderance of
the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the $75,
000 jurisdictional threshold. See Id. Where a
complaint seeks award of punitive damages, courts consider
the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded on the
plaintiff's claims in determining whether the
jurisdictional threshold has been satisfied. See Bell v.
Preferred Life Assurance Soc'y, 320 U.S. 238, 240
(1943); see also Holley Equip. Co. v. Credit All.
Corp., 821 F.2d 1531, 1535 (11th Cir. 1987).
analyzing the merits of a motion for remand, if it is not
facially apparent from the complaint that the jurisdictional
threshold has been met, the courts accept as true the
removing defendant's unchallenged allegations regarding
the amount in controversy; however, where the removing
defendant's allegations regarding the amount in
controversy are challenged, courts consider the parties'
evidentiary submissions to determine whether the removing
defendant has met its burden to establish the satisfaction of
the jurisdictional threshold by a preponderance of the
evidence. See Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v.
Owens, 574 U.S. 81, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553-554 (2014). In
making that determination, the courts may properly make
“‘reasonable deductions, reasonable inferences,
or other reasonable extrapolations' from the
pleadings.” Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., 613
F.3d 1058, 1061-1062 (11th Cir. 2010), quoting Pretka v.
Kolter City Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d 754 (11th Cir.
Ford offers no evidence regarding the amount in controversy,
rather invites the court to infer or extrapolate from
Brown's allegations that it is facially apparent that the
jurisdictional threshold has been exceeded. First, Ford
argues that it may reasonably be inferred from Brown's
allegations that Brown's alleged actual damages are in
the amount of approximately $50, 000. Second, Ford argues
that the court may rely on its “judicial experience and
common sense, ” Taylor v. Alabama CVS Pharmacy,
L.L.C., 2017 WL 3009695, *2 (N.D. Ala. July 14, 2017)
(unpublished disposition), to determine both that punitive
damages may be awarded on Brown's claims and that, in the
event such damages were awarded, they would be in an amount
sufficient to bring the total amount in controversy above the
argument is unpersuasive. As to the actual damages component
of the amount in controversy, Ford notes Brown's
allegation that, but for Ford's misrepresentations
regarding the characteristics of the Power Stroke diesel
engine, he “would not have purchased the vehicle or
would have paid less for it, ” Doc. 1, Exh. A, ¶
20, and his allegation that the purchase price Brown paid for
the vehicle was “approximately $50, 000, ”
id., ¶ 6. On the basis of these allegations,
Ford contends that “on the face of the Complaint, the
full purchase price of the vehicle” - approximately
$50, 000 - “is in controversy.” (Doc 12, p. 5, n.
2.) However, it is fundamental that in calculating the amount
of Brown's actual damages, the value ...