Riggs-Degraftenreed v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc et al
ORDER denying 19 MOTION to Remand to State Court. Responses to the pending 17 and 21 Motions to Dismiss due by 28 February 2014. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 2/12/2014. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE INC.;
WELLS FARGO BANK NA; and WILSON
& ASSOCIATES PLLC
The parties agree that all the criteria for removal under CAFA- minimal
diversity, a sufficient number of putative class members, and more than
$5,000,000.00 in controversy-are met. NQ 20 at 1. The fighting issue is
whether Defendants' thirty-day window had already closed when they
removed the case. The window opens when a defendant has clear notice that
the case is re+ovable. That usually happens when the complaint is served.
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). But that's so only if "the complaint explicitly discloses
[that] the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of the federal jurisdictional
amount." In re Willis, 228 F.3d 896, 897 (8th Cir. 2000)(per curiam).
Riggs-Degraftenreed filed a complaint and three amended complaints.*
She didn't specify the amount in controversy in any of them. The third and
*The three amended complaints were titled and docketed as the
amended complaint, the third amended complaint, and the fourth
amended complaint. There is no second amended complaint.
fourth amended complaints say the amount at stake is greatly in excess of
$75,000." NQ 15 at 1 & NQ 16 at 1. But even that statement probably wasn't
specific enough to open the removal window. Knudson v. Systems Painters,
Inc.,634 F.3d 968,974 (8th Cir. 2011); Atwell v. Boston Scientific Corp.,2013 WL
6050762 at *2 (8th Cir. 2013)(applying the Knudson rule in a CAFA case).
Defendants nonetheless removed the case about twenty-five days after RiggsDegraftenreed filed her third amended complaint. This pleading expanded
the proposed class from Arkansawyers to people dispersed throughout the
United States." NQ 15 at ~ 23. Defendants reasoned that this pleading finally
made it clear enough that the amount in controversy was more than
$5,000,000.00. Compare NQ 2 at~~ 154-161 and NQ 3 at~~ 116-119 with NQ 15
Neither the original complaint nor first amended complaint gave
enough specifics on the amount in controversy to put Defendants on notice.
Contrary to Riggs-Degraftenreed's argument on reply, one of her motion
responses in the circuit court was not a paper that put Defendants on notice
either; this response is silent about the amount in controversy. NQ 31.
Removing within thirty days of the third amended complaint, which
solidified an amount in controversy as more than $5,000,000.00, was proper.
Removal was timely. Motion to remand, NQ 19, denied. Responses to the
pending motions to dismiss due by 28 February 2014.
D.P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
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