United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
F. MOORER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a Motion to Remand and Supporting
Memorandum of Law filed by Terminix International
Company, Inc.'s, and Terminix International Company,
L.P.'s. Doc. 5, filed June 21, 2019. The motion requests
the Court remand this arbitration award appeal to the Circuit
Court of Mobile County, Alabama, because pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b), Patricia Weatherby is prohibited from
removing this matter. Id. at 1. Having considered
the motion, response, and relevant law, the Court finds the
motion to remand is due to be GRANTED.
13, 2019, Terminix International Company, Inc.'s, and
Terminix International Company, L.P.'s (collectively,
“Appellants”) filed their Notice of Appeal from
Aribtration Award with the state circuit court. Doc. 1 at
2-3. Patricia Weatherby (“Appellee”) removed this
matter to this Court from the Circuit Court of Mobile County,
Alabama on June 12, 2019, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1441 and 1446, based on an assertion of diversity
jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. §1332). Id. at 1-2.
21, 2019, Appellants filed their Motion to Remand and
Supporting Memorandum of Law (Doc. 5) to which Appellee
timely filed her response (Doc. 7). Appellants timely replied
(Doc. 10). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for review,
and the Court finds oral argument unnecessary.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts have a strict duty to exercise jurisdiction conferred
on them by Congress. Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716, 116 S.Ct. 1712, 1720, 135
L.Ed.2d 1 (1996). However, federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction and possess only that power authorized
by the Constitution and statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673,
1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994); Burns v. Windsor Ins.
Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (1994). The party removing this
action, has the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction.
See Leonard v. Enterprise Rent a Car, 279 F.3d 967,
972 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v. Best Buy
Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1318 (11th Cir. 2001)). Further, the
federal removal statutes must be construed narrowly and
doubts about removal must be resolved in favor of remand.
Allen v. Christenberry, 327 F.3d 1290, 1293 (11th
Cir. 2003) (citing Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1502,
1505 (11th Cir. 1996)); Burns, 31 F.3d at 1095
DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
argue Appellee is a de facto defendant and the
forum-defendant rule, which is found in 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a)(2), prohibits Appellee, a citizen of the state in
which this action was brought, from removing this action to
this Court. Doc. 5 at 9-16. Appellants argue to allow
Appellee to remove this action to this Court would be counter
to the purpose of the forum-defendant rule. Id. at
16-18. Finally, Appellants argue their appeal raises
substantive issues of law that are unique to the State of
Alabama and would be most appropriately decided by Alabama
courts. Id. at 18-19. In response, Appellee argues
the forum defendant rule does not apply to her, the terms of
the underlying agreement between the parties precludes a suit
by Appellants for a review of the arbitrator's decision,
and the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C.
§§ 1-307, limits the circumstances under which an
arbitration award may be judicially reviewed. Doc.
the purpose of removal, the federal law determines who is
plaintiff and who is defendant. It is a question of the
construction of the federal statute on removal, and not the
state statute. The latter's procedural provisions cannot
control the privilege of removal granted by the federal
statute.'” City of Vestavia Hills v. Gen. Fid.
Ins. Co., 676 F.3d 1310, 1313 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co. v. Stude, 346
U.S. 574, 580, 74 S.Ct. 290, 294, 98 L.Ed. 317 (1954)).
[F]ederal courts are required to realign the parties in an
action to reflect their interests in the litigation. The
parties themselves cannot confer diversity jurisdiction upon
the federal courts by their own designation of plaintiffs and
defendants. City of Indianapolis v. Chase Nat'l
Bank, 314 U.S. 63, 69, 62 S.Ct. 15, 17, 86 L.Ed. 47
(1941). . . . Rather it is the “duty . . . of the lower
federal courts[ ] to look beyond the pleadings and arrange
the parties according to their sides in the dispute, ”
Northbrook Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Brewer, 493 U.S. 6,
16 n.5, 110 S.Ct. 297, 302 n.5, 107 L.Ed.2d 223 (1989)
(citations and quotations omitted), as determined by
“the principal purpose of the suit” and
“the primary and controlling matter in dispute, ”
City of Indianapolis, 314 U.S. at 69, 62 S.Ct. 15.
Where the parties' interests are the same, we have held
that those parties must be aligned together . . ., even where
the parties' interests were in opposition outside of the
issues raised in the subject action. Weller v. Navigator
Marine, Inc., 737 F.2d 1547, 1548 (11th Cir. 1984);
see also Dev. Fin. Corp. v. Alpha Hous. & Health
Care, Inc., 54 F.3d 156 (3d Cir. 1995)
(“‘[W]here party designations have jurisdictional
consequences,' [the court] must align the parties before
City of Vestavia Hills, 676 F.3d at 1313-14.
Appellants originally brought this action against Appellee in
state circuit court pursuant to Ala. R. Civ. P. 71B to appeal
an award from arbitration. Doc. 1 at 2-3. Black's Law
Dictionary defines “plaintiff” as “[t]he
party who brings a civil suit in a court of law” and
“defendant” as “[a] person sued in a civil
proceeding or accused in a criminal proceeding.”
Plaintiff, Defendant, Black's Law
Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Further, Black's Law
Dictionary defines “suit” as “[a]ny
proceeding by a party or parties against another in a court
of law.” Suit, Black's Law
Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Based on these definitions,
Appellants effectively are plaintiffs in this action because
they brought the suit in state circuit court, and Appellee
effectively is a defendant in this action because the suit
was brought against her. While this matter is an appeal from
arbitration in which Appellee was effectively a plaintiff and
Appellants were effectively defendants, arbitration is not a
court of law but “[a] dispute-resolution process,
” so the Court must determine the alignment of the
parties based on when the suit was brought in a court of law.
Arbitration, Black's Law Dictionary
(11th ed. 2019).
the Court has determined Appellee is effectively a defendant
in this matter, the fact that Appellee alleges her
citizenship to be that of the the forum state, Alabama, and
bases jurisdiction solely on diversity, raises the issue of
the forum-defendant rule. See Doc. 1 ¶ 10.
“A civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis
of [diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)] may not be removed if any of the parties in interest
properly joined and served as ...