Crabtree v. Wal-Mart Stores East LP
ORDER denying 5 --motion to amend complaint and to remand. Signed by Judge Steven D. Merryday on 12/4/2017. (BK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CASE NO. 8:17-cv-2324-T-23JSS
WAL-MART STORES EAST LP,
Dondenna Crabtree allegedly slipped on a “wet substance” at Wal-Mart and
fell. After Crabtree sued in state court for negligence, Wal-Mart removed (Doc. 1)
the action and invoked diversity jurisdiction. Crabtree moves (Doc. 5) for leave to
amend the complaint to add a claim against Lisa Dickerson, a Florida citizen and a
“zone manager” at the Wal-Mart in which Crabtree slipped and fell.
Not a guarantor of each shopper’s safety, a manager bears liability for an
injury only if the manager contributed directly to the injury. Accordino v. Wal-Mart
Stores East, L.P., 2005 WL 3336503 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 8, 2005) (Corrigan, J.) (collecting
Florida decisions). A manager’s “general administrative responsibility” for the store
imposes no duty to ensure each shopper’s safety. McElveen v. Peeler, 544 So. 2d 270
(Fla. 1st DCA 1989) (Wentworth, J.); accord McDaniel v. Sheffield, 431 So. 2d 230 (Fla.
1st DCA 1983) (Thompson, J.).
The proposed complaint alleges: “By virtue of her managerial authority and
position,” Dickerson “owed a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe
condition and to adequately warn [Crabtree] of any dangers on the premises.”
(Doc. 5-1 at 4) In other words, the proposed complaint attempts to subject Dickerson
to liability based on Dickerson’s “general administrative responsibility.” Other than
the conclusory allegations in paragraph fifteen, nothing in the complaint shows that
Dickerson contributed directly to Crabtree’s injury.1 Also, Wal-Mart submits
evidence to show that Dickerson owed Crabtree no duty to ensure the cleanliness of
the area in which Crabtree fell. Dickerson, who manages part of the store, affirms
(Doc. 6 at 10) no responsibility for the “Garden Center” where Crabtree fell. See
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962) (holding that the “futility of amendment”
warrants denying leave to amend).
The decisions consistently decline to remand an action in which the plaintiff alleges the
conclusion — but fails to allege facts showing — that a manager’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s
injury. See, e.g., De Varona v. Discount Auto Parts, LLC, 860 F.Supp.2d 1344 (S.D. Fla. 2012)
(Ungaro, J.) (denying motion to remand); Accordino, 2005 WL 3336503 (denying motion to remand);
McPherson v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2013 WL 12059608 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 10, 2013) (Moore, J.)
(denying motion to remand); Scipione v. Advance Stores Co., Inc., 2012 WL 3105199 (M.D. Fla. July
31, 2012) (Bucklew, J.) (denying leave to add a claim against the manager and denying motion to
remand); Wade v. Dolgencorp, LLC, 2009 WL 8630725 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 14, 2009) (Bucklew, J.)
(denying motion to remand); Racaniello v. Fresh Market, Inc., 2014 WL 12479404 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 22,
2014) (Rosenberg, J.) (denying motion to remand); Ruscin v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2013 WL
12157850 (M.D. Fla. July 16, 2013) (Scriven, J.) (denying motion to remand).
The proposed complaint fails to state a claim against Dickerson, and the
evidence submitted by Wal-Mart shows the futility of the proposed amendment. The
motion (Doc. 5) to add a claim against Dickerson is DENIED. Because the parties
shares no citizenship and because the amount in controversy on the day of removal
likely exceeded $75,000,2 the request (Doc. 5 at 3) to remand the action is DENIED.
ORDERED in Tampa, Florida, on December 4, 2017.
A November 13, 2017 order (Doc. 7) directs Wal-Mart to show that the amount in
controversy on the day of removal likely exceeded $75,000. Wal-Mart responds (Doc. 8 at 13) that
Crabtree claims $63.519.99 in medical expenses. Because Crabtree requests damages for “pain and
suffering” and lost wages, the amount in controversy at the time of removal from Crabtree’s
negligence claim likely exceeded $75,000.
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