Hooten v. Boyer
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING Sidney Hooten's 31 MOTION to Remand ; (2) this case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama; (3) Defs State of Arkansas and Arkansas States University's 29 & 33 motions to dismiss are left for resolution after remand; directing the clerk to take appropriate steps to effect the remand; this case is closed in this court. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 7/23/15. Furnished to calendar group & AG (terminates Final Pretrial Conference 09/10/2015; Jury Trial 10/05/2015).(djy, ) Modified on 7/23/2015 to clarify text to reflect a certified copy as mailed to Circuit Court Montgomery County (qc/djy, ).
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
individually and as an
incapacitated person by
and through his next
friend Nicole Harris,
BRIAN KEITH BOYER,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
OPINION AND ORDER
against defendants Brian Keith Boyer, the State of
employer), claiming that Boyer’s negligent, reckless,
and wanton conduct caused a car crash in which Hooten
This case was removed from state to federal court
28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1447.
The cause is before the court on Hooten’s motion
Arkansas State University’s motions to dismiss.
granted and the dismissal motions will be left for
resolution after remand.
I. REMAND STANDARD
jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375 (1994); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co.,
31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994), abrogated on
other grounds by, 28 U.S.C. § 1446.
A federal court
may hear a case only if it is authorized to do so by
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377.
seeking removal has the burden of establishing it.
Burns, 31 F.3d at 1095.
The removal statute must be
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
favor of a remand to state court.
Burns, 31 F.3d at
This case arises from a car crash on an Alabama
plaintiff Hooten, in which Hooten suffered traumatic
defendant as Boyer and Boyers, the court will use
“Boyer” for consistency.)
Hooten claims that Boyer’s
negligence, recklessness, and wantonness caused the
At the time of the crash, Boyer was employed
as a basketball coach for Arkansas State University,
a public university in Arkansas, and was travelling
Hooten is a citizen of Alabama, and Boyer
is a citizen of Arkansas.
Hooten sued Boyer in state court in April 2014,
Boyer’s deposition, in which Boyer explained that he
was traveling in Alabama as part of a road trip for
for leave to file a third amended complaint, which
added Arkansas and its university as defendants.
court granted the motion but provided Boyer time to
Boyer did not object, Hooten filed the third
amended complaint, and the two new defendants were
served in late March 2015.
The State of Arkansas moved to dismiss on an
Eleventh Amendment ground, and Hooten followed a day
later with a motion to remand.
The university then
filed a motion to dismiss the same week.
motions are now before the court.
Hooten moves to remand the case to state court,
contending that, because the State of Arkansas and
Arkansas State University do not count as citizens
for purposes of diversity jurisdiction, there is no
longer complete diversity.
28 U.S.C. § 1332 governs diversity-of-citizenship
jurisdiction if the amount in controversy is above
complete--that is, “the allegations must show that
the citizenship of each plaintiff is different from
that of each defendant.”
Algoma Properties, LLC v.
(Thompson, J.) (citing Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S.
jurisdiction, “an arm or alter ego of the State” is
not a citizen of that State.
Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am.
(internal quotation marks omitted).
A party that is
Both parties agree, with good reason, that adding
the State of Arkansas and Arkansas State University
destroys complete diversity.
See Am. Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d at 412 (analogizing to Eleventh Amendment
universities are alter egos of the State and thus not
citizens for diversity-of-citizenship purposes).
State of Arkansas and the university, however, argue
that they do not destroy jurisdiction in this case
because Hooten joined them as parties after removal.
It is generally the case that, in determining
whether the pleadings support removal, “the critical
time is the date of removal,” Leonard v. Enter. Rent
a Car, 279 F.3d 967, 972 (11th Cir. 2002).
joinder, or permit joinder and remand the action to
the State court.”
28 U.S.C. § 1447.
Fletcher v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.,
Relying on the so-called Hensgens factors, “the court
should consider the extent to which the purpose of
whether [the] plaintiff has been dilatory in asking
significantly injured if amendment is not allowed,
and any other factors bearing on the equities.”
(quoting Hensgens v. Deere & Co., 833 F.2d 1179, 1182
(5th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 851 (1989))
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Here, at the time Hooten was allowed to amend his
complaint to add Arkansas and its university, Boyer
was given an opportunity to object to the allowance,
an opportunity during which he could have argued that
the amendment should not have been allowed under the
been allowed comes too late.
Arkansas and its university also argue that the
However, the statute is clear that, once the court
permits joinder, the action is to be remanded. An
argument could therefore be made that once this court
allowed the joinder of Arkansas and its university,
it had no choice then, and thus has no choice now,
removal statutes should be strictly
construed in favor of remand. This court need not
resolve this issue, for, even if it has the authority
to undo the allowance of the amendment, see Bevels,
100 F. Supp. 2d at 1314, it would, in the exercise
its discretion, not do so.
First, Arkansas and its
university have not only been added as parties, they
defendants from being sued in this federal court, Am.
Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d at 412, and while Alabama law
court, Ala. Agr. & Mech. Univ. v. Jones, 895 So. 2d
federal law to apply immunity in its courts for other
States and their universities, Nevada v. Hall, 440
U.S. 410, 426 (1979), nor have Alabama courts always
guaranteed such immunity to other States and their
Tennessee, 627 So. 2d 362, 366 (Ala. 1992) (declining
For the foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED that:
(doc. no. 31) is granted.
(2) This case is remanded to the Circuit Court of
Montgomery County, Alabama.
State University’s motions to dismiss (doc. nos. 29
and 33) are left for resolution after remand.
appropriate steps to effect the remand.
This case is closed in this court.
DONE, this the 23rd day of July, 2015.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson___
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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