United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
court has, sua sponte, on its own, reviewed the
petition for removal filed by plaintiff, Aaliyah Gaston,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441, and seeking a stay of
eviction proceedings commenced against plaintiff in state
court by the defendant, Madison Heights Apartments.
See doc. no. 1 (Petition for Removaland Federal Stay
of Eviction). Upon consideration of the pleadings, and for
the reasons stated below, this case is due to be remanded to
the state court from which it was improvidently removed.
commenced eviction proceedings against plaintiff in the
District Court for Madison County, Alabama, on October 10,
2019, by filing a complaint alleging that it had served a
written notice terminating Aaliyah Gaston's right to
retain possession of property located at 126 Michael Avenue,
Apartment B, in Madison, Alabama, due to Gaston's failure
to pay $400 in rent. See doc. no. 1-1 (State Court
Pleadings), at 3 (State Court Eviction/Unlawful Detainer
Complaint);see also Ala. Code §
35-9A-101 et seq. (1975) (Alabama Uniform
Residential Landlord and Tenant Act); id. §
6-6-310 et seq. (Alabama Unlawful Detainer Statute).
Gaston's October 28, 2019 answer to the state-court
complaint alleged only that Madison Heights Apartments
“did not serve [him or her] with a proper termination
of lease notice before filing this case.” Id.,
at 2 (Answer to Landlord's Claim).
petition for removal was filed eleven days later, on November
8, 2019, and is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), which
provides that a state-court action may be removed to a United
States District Court on the basis of the parties'
diversity of citizenship: i.e.,
(b) Removal based on diversity of
(1) In determining whether a civil action is removable on the
basis of the jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of this
title, the citizenship of defendants sued under fictitious
names shall be disregarded.
(2) A civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of
the jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of this title may not
be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined
and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which
such action is brought.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).
turn, the pertinent parts of the federal statute conferring
jurisdiction upon a federal court on the basis of the
parties' diversity of citizenship provides that:
“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction
of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States; . .
. ” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) (ellipses supplied).
language of the foregoing statutes clearly implies, federal
courts are tribunals of limited jurisdiction,
“‘empowered to hear only those cases within the
judicial power of the United States as defined by Article III
of the Constitution,' and which have been entrusted to
them by a jurisdictional grant authorized by Congress.”
University of South Alabama v. The American Tobacco
Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting
Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir.
1994)). Accordingly, an “Article III court must be sure
of its own jurisdiction before getting to the merits”
of any action. Ortiz v. Fiberboard Corp., 527 U.S.
815, 831 (1999) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a
Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 88-89 (1998)).
defendant who seeks to remove a state-court action to
district court bears the burden of proving that federal
jurisdiction exists. See, e.g., Leonard v.
Enterprise Rent A Car, 279 F.3d 967, 972 (11th Cir.
2002); Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316,
1319-20 (11th Cir. 2001). When determining the propriety of a
removal, district courts are directed to construe the removal
statutes narrowly, and “all uncertainties as to removal
jurisdiction are to be resolved in favor of remand.”
Russell Corp. v. American Home Assurance Co., 264
F.3d 1040, 1050 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Burns v. Windsor
Insurance Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994)).
Most importantly, the court must focus upon jurisdictional
facts alleged on the date the case was removed from state
court. See, e.g., Burns, 31 F.3d at 1097 n.13
(“Jurisdictional facts are assessed on the basis of
plaintiff's complaint as of the time of
removal.”) (emphasis in original) (citations
omitted). Finally, district courts are admonished to
determine jurisdiction “at the earliest possible stage
in the proceedings.” University of South
Alabama, 168 F.3d at 410.
assuming that plaintiff can establish that there is complete
diversity of citizenship between the parties,  there is no proof
that “the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.” 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a); see doc. no. 1-1 (State Court
Pleadings), at 3 (Statement of Claim Eviction/Unlawful
Detainer). Indeed, the jurisdiction of the District
Court of Madison County, Alabama, is limited to cases in
which the amount in controversy does not exceed $20, 000.
See Ala. Code § 12-12-30 (1975). Further,
plaintiff has neither alleged nor established a basis for
federal question jurisdiction.
it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that this case be, and
the same hereby is, dismissed for lack of federal
jurisdiction. The Clerk is directed to remand the action to
the District Court of Madison County, Alabama, from which it
was improvidently removed. Plaintiffs claim to proceed in
forma pauperis, without payment of court fees or costs,