Gill v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
ORDER denying 87 Motion for Leave to File Amended Notice of Removal, as set out. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 6/9/2016. (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ASHLEY GILL, as Administratrix of the Estate
of Marshall Gill, and individually,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.,
CIVIL ACTION 2:15-00162-KD-N
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion for Leave to File Amended Notice
of Removal, Plaintiff’s Opposition, and Defendant’s Reply. (Docs 87, 93, 97). Defendant seeks
leave to amend its notice of removal to include an additional basis for the Court’s jurisdiction,
namely, diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
The initial complaint in this matter was filed on October 2, 2012 in the Circuit Court of
Dallas County, Alabama. (Doc. 1-2 at 5). The initial pleading alleged a number of state-law
causes of action against Defendants Wells Fargo (“Wells Fargo”) and Sirote and Permutt, P.C.
(“Sirote”). Plaintiffs are Alabama citizens, Defendant Wells Fargo is a citizen of South Dakota
and Defendant Sirote is a citizen of Alabama. (Docs. 30 at 1, 31 at 1). Thus, at the time of initial
filing, the parties were not completely diverse.
On March 13, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint containing a claim
against the Defendants for violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”). On March 23, 2015, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a), Defendants
removed the matter to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction as provided for by
28 U.S.C. § 1331, based on the alleged violations of the FDCPA. (Doc. 1).
On March 11, 2016, Alabama citizen Sirote, was dismissed from this action. On April 8,
2016, Wells Fargo, the only remaining Defendant, filed a motion for leave to file an amended
notice of removal, arguing that the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied and the parties
are now completely diverse as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 87).
With regard to removal on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3)
Except as provided in subsection (c), if the case stated by the initial pleading is
not removable, a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt by
the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of an amended pleading,
motion, order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3). Here, Wells Fargo’s motion for leave to file an amended notice of
removal was filed within 30 days of the “other paper” i.e. the Order dismissing Sirote.
However, subsection (c), referenced above, states:
A case may not be removed under subsection (b)(3) on the basis of jurisdiction
conferred by section 1332 more than 1 year after commencement of the action,
unless the district court finds that the plaintiff has acted in bad faith in order to
prevent a defendant from removing the action.
28 U.S.C. § 1446 (c)(emphasis added).
Assuming this matter was not removable based on the “case stated by the initial
pleading,”1 any removal based on diversity would have been required to occur on or before
October 2, 2013 (within a year of the filing of the initial pleading). § 1446(b)(3)-(c). Upon
consideration of subsection (c) quoted above, the Court finds that an attempt at removal on the
It is unlikely that the case was removable based simply on Plaintiffs’ citation to the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act (“FDCPA”) and the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) as the bases for the duty owed by the Defendant. See
Crosby v. Presbyterian Retirement Corporation, 15-00444-KD-B at Doc. 46 (discussing likely absence of a
substantial federal question when state law claims reference duties created by federal statute and when there
alternative bases for liability exist).
basis of diversity, asserted more than a year after commencement of the action, would run afoul
of the plain language of the statute.
Wells Fargo seeks to make a distinction between removal and amending its notice of
removal in order to provide another basis for the Court’s jurisdiction. (Doc. 97 at 2). However, §
1446 (b) establishes a thirty day period in which a notice of removal may be amended. Nothing
in the law permits amendment, to allege a new basis for jurisdiction, beyond this deadline. In
Fuller v. Exxon Corp., the Court cited a number of cases from this circuit and others that reiterate
A petition for removal of a civil action must be filed within thirty days after the
defendant has received a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for
relief upon which the action is based. See 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). A defendant may
freely amend the notice of removal within the thirty day period of 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b). After the thirty day period has expired however, a party may only amend
defective allegations of jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1653.2 Section 1653
does not permit a removing party to assert additional grounds of jurisdiction not
included in the original pleading. See American Educators Financial Corporation
v. Bennett, 928 F. Supp. 1113, 1115 (M.D.Ala.1996); Stafford v. Mobil Oil Corp.,
945 F.2d 803 (5th Cir. 1991); Newman–Green, Inc. v. Alfonzo–Larrain, 490 U.S.
826, 109 S. Ct. 2218, 104 L.Ed.2d 893 (1989) (citation omitted); 14A Charles A.
Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice And Procedure §
3733 at 358–61 (3d ed. 1998) (“[T]he notice may be amended only to set out
more specifically the grounds for removal that already have been stated, albeit
imperfectly, in the original notice .... Completely new grounds for removal may
not be added and missing allegations may not be furnished, however.” (footnotes
“[T]he courts that have addressed the issue have uniformly recognized that a
defendant’s ability to amend the removal petition after the thirty-day time limit
for removal prescribed by § 1446 extends only to amendments to correct
‘technical defects’ in the jurisdictional allegations in the notice of removal ....”
Blakeley v. United Cable System, 105 F.Supp.2d 574, 578 (S.D.Ala.2000); see,
e.g., Stein v. Sprint Communications Co., 968 F. Supp. 371, 374 (N.D.Ill.1997)
(“[A] defendant may not amend its notice of removal after the 30–day limit in §
1446(b) to remedy a substantive defect in the petition”); Spillers v. Tillman, 959
F.Supp. 364, 372 (S.D. Miss.1997) (“Although a defendant is free to amend a
notice of removal within the 30–day period set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), once
Section 1653 provides, “Defective allegations of jurisdiction may be amended, upon terms, in the trial or appellate
the 30–day period has expired, amendment is not available to cure a substantive
defect in removal proceedings.”); Wright v. Combined Ins. Co. of America, 959
F.Supp. 356, 359 (N.D. Miss.1997) (“If a defendant seeks to amend the notice of
removal at any time thereafter, he may only do so to clarify the jurisdictional
grounds for removal, which were unartfully stated in the original notice. He may
not allege new jurisdictional grounds for removal.”); Iwag v. Geisel Compania
Maritima, 882 F. Supp. 597, 601 (S.D.Tex.1995) (finding that “[s]ection 1653
does not allow the removing party to assert additional grounds of jurisdiction not
included in the original pleading,” and thus holding that the court would “disallow
0a0mendments to notices of removal that present grounds for removal not
included in the original notice”).
Fuller v. Exxon Corp., 131 F. Supp. 2d 1323, 1327-28 (S.D. Ala. 2001).
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion for leave to amend its notice of removal (Doc. 87) is
DONE and ORDERED this 9th day of June 2016.
/s/ Kristi K. DuBose
KRISTI K. DuBOSE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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