Dozier Internet Law, P.C. v. Riley et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER GRANTING 5 Motion to Remand to State Court and this case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court for the County of Henrico, Virginia. Signed by District Judge Henry E. Hudson on 11/20/2008. Certified copy mailed to the Clerk of the Henrico County Circuit Court. (walk, )
Dozier Internet Law, P.C. v. Riley et al
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA Richmond Division
DOZIER INTERNET LAW, P.C.,
RONALD J. RILEY, et al.,
Civil Action No. 3:08CV643-HEH
(Granting Plaintiffs Motion to Remand)
THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiffs Motion to Remand (Dk. No. 5),
filed on October 29, 2008. Plaintiff filed its Complaint in the Circuit Court for the
County of Henrico, Virginia, on September 4, 2008. Defendants removed the case to this
Court on October 2, 2008, on the grounds of diversity and federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed its Motion to Remand on October 29, 2008, and the parties have filed extensive memoranda stating their respective positions. The Court will dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials
before the Court, and argument would not aid in the decisional process. For the reasons
stated herein, the Motion is GRANTED, and the case is REMANDED to the Circuit
Court for the County of Henrico, Virginia. A defendant may remove an action to federal court if the action could have
originally been filed in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls upon the party seeking removal. Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic
Chems., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). "Because removal jurisdiction raises
significant federalism concerns, [the Court] must strictly construe removal jurisdiction." Id. (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100 (1941)). Moreover, "[i]f federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is necessary." Id. Defendants cite two grounds to support their removal of this case to this Court.
First, Defendants contend that the Court has diversity jurisdiction over this case pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Second, Defendants maintain that the Court has federal question jurisdiction over the case because Plaintiffs have asserted a claim under the Lanham Act,
15 U.S.C. §§ XWAetseq.
For the Court to have diversity jurisdiction, Defendants must establish that the
parties possess diversity in citizenship and that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff is a Virginia corporation
and that Defendants are Michigan corporations. Thus, the Complaint satisfies the
diversity of citizenship requirement. The Complaint, however, alleges that the amount in controversy is only $55,000. Defendants urge this Court to find that the actual amount in
controversy is more than $75,000 because the Complaint underestimates the amount of
legal fees Plaintiff will incur and fails to account for the value of the injunction Plaintiff seeks.
The Court finds that the Defendants have failed to produce any persuasive
evidence to support a finding by this Court that Plaintiffs claimed amount in controversy
was not made in good faith. Defendants provide only anecdotal evidence that Plaintiffs
legal fees will exceed $10,000, and they have produced no evidence establishing that the
value of the injunction sufficiently increases the amount in controversy to satisfy the
statutory threshold amount of $75,000. In fact, the record before the Court suggests that injunction is no longer necessary because Defendants have removed the contested links
from their website. (PL's Reply, at 4.) Defendants have failed to satisfy their burden of
establishing jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and the Court finds that it lacks
diversity jurisdiction over this case.
The Court will now turn to Defendants' claim that removal of the case was proper based on federal question jurisdiction. Defendants contend that, while Plaintiffs Complaint lacks any reference to a federal statute and arises out of the alleged
infringement of a state-registered trademark, Plaintiff has asserted a trademark
infringement claim under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). While the Fourth Circuit
has not addressed the issue, other circuits have held that "removal of a trademark infringement action is improper when a plaintiff does not clearly state he is seeking relief
under the Lanham Act." In re Hot-Hed, Inc., Ml F.3d 320, 324 (5th Cir. 2007); Vittaroz
Corp. v. Borden, Inc., 644 F.2d 960, 964 (2d Cir. 1981); La Chemise Lacoste v. Alligator Co., 506 F.2d 339, 346 (3d Cir. 1974). The Complaint makes no mention of the Lanham
Act, and the Court can find no federal question apparent from the face of the Complaint.
Accordingly, Defendants have also failed to satisfy their burden of establishing
federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiffs Motion to Remand is GRANTED. The case is
REMANDED to the Circuit Court for the County of Henrico, Virginia. The Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Order to all counsel of record and to
the Clerk for the Circuit Court for the County of Henrico, Virginia.
It is SO ORDERED.
Henry E. Hudson
United States District Judge