Edwards v. Roberson

Filing 5

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that this case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Russell County, Alabama; that the Clerk is DIRECTED to take appropriate steps to effect the remand. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 8/5/2010. (cc, ) Certified copy sent to Circuit Court Clerk for Russell County.

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Edwards v. Roberson Doc. 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA E A S T E R N DIVISION D R . KENNETH G. EDWARDS, P L A IN T IF F , v. R O B E R T L. ROBERSON, D EFEN D A N T. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 3:10cv647-MEF (W O - Do Not Publish) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER A federal court is a court of limited of jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins., 5 1 1 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). That is, a federal court is authorized to entertain only certain a c tio n s which the Constitution or Congress has authorized it to hear. Id. "It is to be p re s u m e d that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, ..., and the burden of establishing th e contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction,...." Id. (citations omitted). At any tim e , the Court may review sua sponte whether it possesses subject matter jurisdiction over a n action before it. See, e.g., Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409-11 (1 1 th Cir.1999) (outlining a federal court's duty to sua sponte consider its own subject matter ju ris d ic tio n ); Fitzgerald v. Seaboard Sys. R.R., Inc., 760 F.2d 1249, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985) (s a m e ); Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. Evans, 76 F. Supp. 2d 1257, 1259 (N.D. Ala. 1999) (" [ A ] federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte w h e n e v e r it may be lacking."); see also Ins. Corp. of Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites d e Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 704 (1982). Dockets.Justia.com Plaintiff filed suit in the Small Claims Court of Russell County, Alabama. Plaintiff s o u g h t $4,730.00 for medical services rendered by Plaintiff and court costs in the some of $ 2 3 5 .0 0 . Defendant filed an Answer and a Counterclaim while the case was pending in R u s s e ll County. Defendant alleged a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and v a rio u s tort claims under Alabama law. After filing this Counterclaim, Defendant removed the case to this Court invoking its s u b je c t matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 & 1332. It is clear, however, from th e Notice of Removal (Doc. # 1) that Defendant's assertions relating to the existence of s u b je c t matter jurisdiction are predicated, not on the face of the Complaint, but on the claims a s s e rte d in the Counterclaim.1 T h e Court has examined the well-pleaded allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint. There a re no federal claims presented in that pleading which would raise a question of federal law. The Court has also examined the well-pleaded allegations of plaintiff's Complaint to Federal subject matter jurisdiction can not rest upon an actual or anticipated c o u n te rc la im . See, e.g., Vaden v. Discover Bank, 129 S. Ct. 1262, 1272 (2009); Holmes G r o u p , Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831-32 (2002). Removal ju ris d ic tio n is appropriate only if the plaintiff could have filed his original claims in federal c o u rt; to the extent that a defendant asserts he has a claim against the plaintiff grounded in f e d e ra l law or subject to diversity jurisdiction, this is not proper grounds upon which to re m o v e the original complaint. See, e.g., Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 & 3 9 9 (1987); Hunt v. Lamb, 427 F.3d 725 (10th Cir. 2005) (ordering remand to state court, h o ld in g that court lacked jurisdiction over custody dispute, even if defendant sought to v in d ic a te federal civil and constitutional rights by way of defense or counterclaim); Takeda v . Nw. Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 765 F.2d 815, 822 (9th Cir. 1985) (removability cannot be created b y defendant pleading a counterclaim presenting a federal question). 1 2 determine whether diversity jurisdiction is appropriate. It is not because the amount in c o n tro v e rsy does not exceed $75,000. Therefore, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction o v e r this action. Accordingly, the action must be remanded pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED as follows: 1. 2. T h is case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Russell County, Alabama. T h e Clerk is DIRECTED to take appropriate steps to effect the remand. D O N E this the 5th day of August, 2010. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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