Johnson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. et al

Filing 17

ORDER allowing the defendant additional opportunity to establish federal jurisdiction. Defendant may provide the Court with evidence showing that the amount in controversy in this case exceeds $75,000. (Compliance due by 3/31/2017). If the Defendant fails to do so, the Court will remand this case to the State Court of Bulloch County, Georgia. Signed by Judge J. Randal Hall on 3/10/17. (cmr)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA STATESBORO DIVISION SHERON JOHNSON, * • Plaintiff, * * v. * WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP, CV 617-003 * * Defendant. * * ORDER Plaintiff and Defendant filed this removed lawsuit it to in state this Court court on in November January 3, asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. 2016, 2017, (Doc. 1.) Based on the complaint and notice of removal, the Court questioned whether § 1332's Accordingly, the amount-in-controversy Court ordered Defendant evidence supporting federal jurisdiction. requirement to was submit (Doc. 8.) met.1 additional In response, the parties filed a joint stipulation stating that they "agree that the amount $75,000. of (Doc. In general, alleged damages at issue in this case exceeds" 15 St 2. ) a defendant may remove "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction" to the district court "embracing the 1 The Court also questioned diversity of citizenship. But based on Defendant's filing in response to the Court's concern, the Court is satisfied that the parties are diverse. place where such action is pending." § 1332, district courts have 28 U.S.C. original § 1441(a). jurisdiction Under over claims between citizens of different states if "the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value plaintiff does complaint, it preponderance not of plead $75,000." a specific is the removing of the evidence, that 1319 Subject-matter (11th Cir. F.3d 1255, 1261 (11th Cir. the of And when a damages in her burden to show, amount in controversy Williams v. by a Best Buy Co., 2001). jurisdiction, the consent of the parties." § 1332(a). amount defendant's exceeds the jurisdictional requirement. 269 F.3d 1316, Id. moreover, "cannot be created by Morrison v. Allstate Indem. 2000). Federal courts, Co., 228 therefore, have the obligation to "inquire sua sponte into the issue whenever it appears that jurisdiction may be lacking." Id. And because litigants may not consent to jurisdiction, courts may be "leery of any stipulations the parties offer concerning the facts related to jurisdiction." Id. at 1275. Here, Plaintiff's complaint states only that, as a result of Defendant's negligence, Plaintiff injured her wrist, knee, and back and "suffered damages including past medical expenses in excess of $10,000.00 . . . and past and future mental and physical pain and suffering." (Doc. 1-1 at 9.) Similarly, Defendant's notice of removal provides that "[u]pon information and belief, the amount in controversy between Plaintiff and Defendant[] $75,000." (Doc. 1 at 2.) exceeds the sum of Thus, as the Court noted in its prior order, these papers do not establish that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. The Court satisfies is also § 1332's unpersuaded that the parties' amount-in-controversy stipulation requirement. The stipulation provides that "the parties stipulate and agree that the amount of alleged damages at issue in this case exceeds the $75,000 jurisdictional threshold diversity jurisdiction." parties the "agree Court between for the and required (Doc. stipulate purposes of 28 15 1 2.) that these establishing parties . . . ." essentially asking the under It U.S.C. also states numbers the (Id.) § 1332 are amount Thus, Court to allow them to the that the submitted in for to controversy parties consent to are federal jurisdiction, which the Court cannot do. The establish Court will federal $75,000. that the Defendant jurisdiction. date of this order, showing allow an additional opportunity Within twenty-one days to from the Defendant may provide the Court with evidence amount in controversy in If the Defendant fails to do so, this case exceeds the Court will remand this case to the State Court of Bulloch County, Georgia. ORDER ENTERED at Augusta, Georgia this /Cr^ day of March, 2017. HONOK^LS^J. RANDAL HALL UNITEDySTATES DISTRICT JUDGE iRN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

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