Keyser v. Haverty Furniture Co., Inc.
ORDER granting 5 Motion to Remand to Circuit Court of Mobile County, AL. Signed by Magistrate Judge Katherine P. Nelson on 2/26/2015. (srr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
DARREN M. KEYSER,
HAVERTY FURNITURE CO., INC.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-00096-N
On February 19, 2015, the Defendant removed this case from the Circuit
Court of Mobile County, Alabama, under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), citing diversity of
citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) as the sole basis for this Court’s subject matter
jurisdiction. (See Doc. 1). The Defendant has since filed a motion to remand under
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (Doc. 5), claiming, inter alia: “[F]ollowing the removal, Plaintiff’s
counsel represented to Defendant’s counsel that Plaintiff has suffered minor alleged
damages on his AADEA claim and, as a result, the amount in controversy does not
and will not exceed $75,000. As a result of that representation, and contrary to
Defendant’s prior good faith belief, the amount-in-controversy requirement for
federal diversity jurisdiction is not met.”
(Id. at 1). The Defendant represents that
the Plaintiff does not oppose remand. (See id. at 2).
“Diversity jurisdiction exists where the suit is between citizens of different
states and the amount in controversy exceeds the statutorily prescribed amount, in
this case $75,000.” Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001)
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)). The party who removes an action from state court
“bears the burden of proving that federal jurisdiction exists. Where, as here, the
plaintiff has not pled a specific amount of damages, the removing defendant must
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the
Id. (internal citation omitted).
Comparing the Defendant’s allegations supporting jurisdiction in its notice of
removal with the allegations in the Plaintiff’s operative complaint, it was
questionable at the outset whether § 1332(a)’s requisite amount in controversy was
satisfied. That the Defendant now expressly concedes this requirement was not
satisfied at the time of removal confirms that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking.1
Thus, remand is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case
shall be remanded.”).
As the parties were made aware (see Doc. 3), this action was randomly
assigned to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for all purposes, including trial.
Inasmuch as no party, to date, has requested reassignment of this action to a United
States District Judge, there presently exists implicit consent to the undersigned
conducting all proceedings in this case.
See Roell v. Withrow, 538 U.S. 580 (2003)
(“We think the better rule is to accept implied consent where, as here, the litigant or
counsel was made aware of the need for consent and the right to refuse it, and still
The undersigned also notes that the Defendant has only alleged the state of residence for
the Plaintiff, a natural person. (See Doc. 1 at 5, ¶ 14). “Citizenship, not residence, is the
key fact that must be alleged . . . to establish diversity for a natural person.” Taylor v.
Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994) (emphasis added). See also, e.g., Travaglio v.
Am. Exp. Co., 735 F.3d 1266, 1269 (11th Cir. 2013) (“As we indicated in remanding this case
for jurisdictional findings, the allegations in Travaglio’s complaint about her citizenship are
fatally defective. Residence alone is not enough.”); Beavers v. A.O. Smith Elec. Prods. Co.,
265 F. App’x 772, 778 (11th Cir. 2008) (per curiam) (unpublished) (“The plaintiffs’ complaint
alleges only the residence of the nearly 100 plaintiffs, not their states of citizenship. Because
the plaintiffs have the burden to affirmatively allege facts demonstrating the existence of
jurisdiction and failed to allege the citizenship of the individual plaintiffs, the district court
lacked subject matter jurisdiction on the face of the complaint.” (internal citation and
voluntarily appeared to try the case before the Magistrate Judge. Inferring consent
in these circumstances thus checks the risk of gamesmanship by depriving parties of
the luxury of waiting for the outcome before denying the magistrate judge’s
authority. Judicial efficiency is served; the Article III right is substantially
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the Defendant’s unopposed motion to
remand (Doc. 5) is GRANTED and that this case be REMANDED to the Circuit
Court of Mobile County, Alabama.
DONE and ORDERED this the 26th day of February 2015.
/s/ Katherine P. Nelson
KATHERINE P. NELSON
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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