Teague et al v. Gas Fired Products
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 12/20/2016. (JLC)
2016 Dec-20 PM 01:31
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
BRANDON TEAGUE and KAMI
) Case No.: 1:16-CV-581-VEH
GAS FIRED PRODUCTS, INC. and )
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This case was originally filed on or about March 2, 2016, in the Circuit
Court of Clay County by Plaintiffs Brandon Teague and Kami Teague (“the
Teagues”). (Doc. 1-1 at 3-14).1 Defendant Gas Fired Products, Inc. (“GFP”)
removed this case to federal court on April 8, 2016. (Doc. 1). On October 13,
2016, the Teagues filed an Amended Complaint (doc. 16) that incorporates “the
original complaint as filed including Counts One through Four” against GFP and
adds two new counts against a new defendant to the action, Agri-South, Inc.
(“Agri-South”). (Id. at 1). On the same day, the Teagues also filed a document
All numbering to (Doc. __) corresponds with the court’s CM/ECF document system.
titled “Amended Complaint Against Agri-South, Inc.” (doc. 17) that is identical to
the other Amended Complaint (doc. 16). Then, on November 3, 2016, the Teagues
filed a Motion To Remand (doc. 22) this action back to the Circuit Court of Clay
County, alleging that because they have added Agri-South as a defendant, there is
no longer diversity of citizenship. The Teagues filed a brief in support of their
Motion To Remand on November 28, 2016. (Doc. 29). On December 20, 2016, all
parties filed a Joint Motion for New Scheduling Order and Motion To Continue,
requesting that the court continue the deadlines from the previous scheduling
order in the event the court did not choose to remand the case to state court. (Doc.
The time for Defendants to file a response to the Motion To Remand has
passed, and the Motion is now under submission. For the following reasons, the
Teagues’ Motion To Remand is due to be GRANTED.
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that
power authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.
of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). For removal to be proper, the court must
have subject-matter jurisdiction in the case:
Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any
civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of
the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United
States for the district and division embracing the place where
such action is pending.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Only state-court actions that originally could have been
filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by the Defendant.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). In order to effect the
[a] defendant or defendants desiring to remove any civil action
from a State court shall file in the district court of the United
States for the district and division within which such action is
pending a notice of removal signed pursuant to Rule 11 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and containing a short and plain
statement of the grounds for removal, together with a copy of all
process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant or
defendants in such action.
28 U.S.C. § 1446(a).
In removal cases, the burden is on the party seeking removal to demonstrate
that federal jurisdiction exists. Friedman v. New York Life Ins. Co., 410 F.3d 1350,
1353 (11th Cir. 2005); see also Parker v. Brown, 570 F. Supp. 640, 642 (D.C.
Ohio, 1983) (“That burden goes not only to the issue of federal jurisdiction, but
also to questions of compliance with statutes governing the exercise of the right of
District courts have original jurisdiction over all cases where citizens of
different states are involved and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000,
exclusive of interests and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). When federal subject matter
jurisdiction is predicated on diversity of citizenship, complete diversity must exist
between the opposing parties. Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S.
365, 373-74, 98 S. Ct. 2396, 2402-03 (1978). The court’s diversity jurisdiction is
determined at the time the Notice of Removal is filed. St. Paul Mercury Indemnity
Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289-90, 58 S.Ct. 586, 590 (1938). At the time
this action was removed to federal court, complete diversity existed between the
Teagues and GFP. (Doc. 1 at 1-2). Therefore, this court has jurisdiction over this
Although the Teagues styled their two filings (docs. 16 and 17) as Amended
Complaints pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a), these amendments amounted to a
joinder under FED. R. CIV. P. 20. Thus, the court must analyze the two filings
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e), which applies to the identification of additional
defendants subsequent to removal and states as follows:
If after removal the plaintiff seeks to join additional defendants whose
joinder would destroy subject matter jurisdiction, the court may deny
joinder, or permit joinder and remand the action to the State court.
28 U.S.C. § 1447(e) (emphasis added). See Ingram v. CSX Transp., Inc., 146 F.3d
858, 862 (11th Cir. 1998) (“Because section 1447(e) was applicable here, the
district court was left with only two options: (1) deny joinder; or (2) permit joinder
and remand [the plaintiff’s] case to state court.”).
The court considers various factors in determining whether to permit joinder
under Section 1447(e), including:
(1) the extent to which the purpose of the amendment is to defeat federal
jurisdiction, (2) whether the plaintiff has been dilatory in asking for the
amendment, (3) whether the plaintiff will be significantly injured if the
amendment is not allowed, and (4) any other factors bearing on the
Smith v. White Consol. Indust., Inc., 229 F. Supp. 2d 1275, 1280 (N.D. Ala. 2002)
(citing Hensgens v. Deere & Co., 833 F.2d 1179, 1182 (5th Cir. 1987), cert.
denied, 493 U.S. 851, 110 S.Ct. 150, 107 L.Ed.2d 109 (1989)).
The purpose of the Teagues’ Amended Complaint was not to defeat
jurisdiction. In their brief in support of their Motion To Remand, they indicated
that they added claims because the discovery process produced other theories of
liability, including against Agri-South (Doc. 29 at 4). Their brief also alleges that
seventy-five percent of the witnesses in this case will be either from Clay County
or within a 25-mile radius of Clay County. (Id.). Further, there is no indication that
the Teagues were dilatory in seeking to remand this case back to state court.
Moreover, given that the claims against Agri-South appear to arise out of the same
transaction or occurrence as the claims against GFP, the Teagues would likely be
unfairly injured if the court denies joinder. Lastly, all of the Counts in the
Complaint and Amended Complaint(s) are based upon state, rather than federal,
causes of action. Therefore, pursuant to Section 1447(e), the court chooses to
permit joinder of Agri-South and remand the action back to the Circuit Court of
Clay County, Alabama.
By separate order, the Teagues’ Motion To Remand (doc. 22) is due to be
GRANTED, the Joint Motion For New Scheduling Order (doc. 30) is due to be
TERMED as MOOT, and this case is due to be REMANDED to the Circuit
Court of Clay County, Alabama for further disposition.
DONE and ORDERED this the 20th of December, 2016.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?