Debra Jones v. Wells Fargo Company
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 5:15-cv-00432-D Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [15-2403]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
DEBRA S. JONES,
Plaintiff - Appellant,
WELLS FARGO COMPANY; JOSHUA HODGIN,
Defendants - Appellees.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of North Carolina, at Raleigh.
James C. Dever III,
Chief District Judge. (5:15-cv-00432-D)
November 30, 2016
Before SHEDD and
December 15, 2016
Vacated and remanded with instructions by unpublished per curiam
Cedric R. Perry, PERRY & ASSOCIATES, Rocky Mount, North
Carolina, for Appellant. John G. McDonald, Meredith A. Pinson,
MCGUIREWOODS LLP, Charlotte, North Carolina, for Appellees.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Debra S. Jones appeals the district court’s order denying
her motion to remand her civil negligence action against her
former employer and her supervisor to state court and granting
the Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
Jones argues that her claim
statute and that the district court erred in concluding, first,
second, that, on its face, the amended complaint filed in state
maintaining a diversity action in federal court.
Accordingly, we vacate the judgment and remand with directions
to remand the action to state court.
We review de novo questions of subject matter jurisdiction,
Johnson v. Am. Towers, LLC, 781 F.3d 693, 701 (4th Cir. 2015).
complaint, [28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) (2012)] allows a defendant to
remove certain claims originally brought in state court into
King v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., 337 F.3d 421, 424
(4th Cir. 2003) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).
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Power Co., 739 F.3d 163, 169 (4th Cir. 2014).
In light of well-
strictly construed, and “if federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a
remand to state court is necessary.”
Dixon v. Coburg Dairy,
(alterations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) (2012), district courts
have original jurisdiction over civil actions where the amount
in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties are citizens of
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
A corporation is
deemed a citizen of every state in which it is incorporated and
federal court to exercise jurisdiction; therefore, a plaintiff
Johnson, 781 F.3d at 704.
The district court denied Jones’ motion to remand in part
fraudulently joined in the action.
We need not review that
determination, however, as we conclude that removal fails on the
alternative ground that Defendants failed to establish with the
requisite certainty the amount in controversy.
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“If diversity of citizenship . . . provides the grounds for
removal, then the sum demanded in good faith in the initial
Francis v. Allstate Ins. Co., 709 F.3d 362, 367 (4th Cir. 2013)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
“If a complaint does not
allege a specific amount of damages, the removing defendant must
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in
quotation marks omitted).
Our review of the record convinces us
that the removing Defendants did not satisfy their burden in the
Although Jones sought an amount “in excess of
suffering (and treatment costs for same) and loss wages, there
is no sound basis in the record for a conclusion as a matter of
law that the amount genuinely in dispute exceeds $75,000.
district court’s finding that “[t]he amended complaint . . .
makes clear that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000,”
cannot be sustained on this record. *
The amended complaint is rife with allegations of Jones’
pre-existing mental disability, including an award of social
security disability benefits prior to her employment with Wells
Fargo, which lasted for no more than 12 to 16 months. Thus, on
the face of the complaint, it is far from clear what her damages
claims amount to or what amount she has put at issue.
than offering evidence to support its removal of the case, and
thereby satisfy its burden to show the existence of federal
jurisdiction, Defendants argued in their response to the motion
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Accordingly, we vacate the judgment and remand the matter
to the district court with directions to remand this action to
argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately
presented in the materials before this court and argument would
not aid the decisional process.
VACATED AND REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS
to remand that Jones had offered “no evidence” to support her
contention that the jurisdictional amount was not satisfied. In
making such an argument, the Defendants got the law exactly
backward. Francis, 709 F.3d at 367.
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