Boles v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. et al
ORDER and REASONS - IT IS ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Transfer and Consolidate 3 is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand 7 is GRANTED and that the case shall be REMANDED to the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, as stated within document. Signed by Chief Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt on 9/16/2016. (cbs) (Additional attachment(s) added on 9/16/2016: # 1 Remand Letter) (cbs).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
WAL-MART STORES, INC. and
WAL-MART LOUISIANA, LLC
SECTION “N” (2)
ORDER & REASONS
Two motions are before the Court: a motion to transfer and consolidate (Rec. Doc. 3), filed
by defendants Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart, LLC, and a motion to remand (Rec. Doc. 7),
filed by plaintiff Darren Boles. For the reasons stated herein, the Court REMANDS the captioned
matter to the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana.
Alleging injury from a slip and fall in a Wal-Mart store, plaintiff Darren Boles (“Plaintiff”)
brought suit (hereinafter “the personal injury case”) against the defendants, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
and Wal-Mart, LLC (collectively “Defendants” or “Wal-Mart”), in the 23rd Judicial District Court
for the Parish of Ascension. Wal-Mart removed the personal injury case to United States District
Court for the Middle District of Louisiana on the basis of diversity jurisdiction and later filed for
summary judgment. See Darren Boles v. Wal-Mart, Inc. and Wal-Mart Louisiana, L.L.C., Civ. A.
No. 15-373 (M.D.La.). The Middle District granted summary judgment on June 17, 2016 and
entered a final judgment with prejudice on June 21, 2016. See id. at Rec. Doc. 30 & 31.
While the summary judgment motion was pending, Wal-Mart emailed Plaintiff a
settlement offer of $30,000. (See Rec. Doc. 1-1 at p. 11.) Plaintiff accepted the offer, but only after
the Middle District had granted the motion. (See id. at p. 12.) Given the timing of the acceptance,
the parties dispute its effectiveness, which has led to further litigation, namely the instant action to
enforce the settlement (hereinafter “the contract case”) filed by Plaintiff in the Civil District Court
for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, and removed by Wal-Mart to this Court – the Eastern District
Wal-Mart now seeks an order from this Court transferring the contract case to the Middle
District, so that it may be consolidated with the personal injury case there. Plaintiff, on the other
hand, moves the Court to remand the matter for want of subject matter jurisdiction. In response to
a motion to retain jurisdiction pending transfer, filed by Wal-Mart in the personal injury case, the
Middle District recently held that: (1) its original, diversity jurisdiction has terminated; (2) it does
not have supplemental jurisdiction over the contract case; and (3) even if it did, it would decline
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. See Darren Boles v. Wal-Mart, Inc. and Wal-Mart
Louisiana, L.L.C., Civ. A. No. 15-373, Rec. Doc. 44 (M.D.La. Sept. 2, 2016). Finding the issue of
remand to be dispositive, the Court turns its attention to Plaintiff’s motion.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,” Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d
912, 916 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 122 S. Ct. 459 (2001). As such, federal courts “must presume
that a suit lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction
rests on the party seeking the federal forum.” Id. Thus, in the context of actions removed from
state court, the removing party bears the burden of demonstrating the federal court’s jurisdiction
and that removal was proper. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720,
723 (5th Cir. 2002). Any doubts as to whether jurisdiction is proper should be resolved in favor of
remand. Acuna v. Brown & Root Inc., 200 F.3d 335, at 339 (5th Cir. 2000). Ultimately, remand is
mandatory when the federal court is without subject matter jurisdiction. 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.”) (emphasis added).
Here, Wal-Mart urges the Court to transfer the case to the Middle District, where it
contends that the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction by that court would be appropriate based
on its “continuing” diversity jurisdiction in the personal injury case. Notwithstanding the Middle
District’s ruling that its diversity jurisdiction terminated with the conclusion of that case, WalMart must meet its burden of establishing the subject matter jurisdiction of this Court before the
undersigned may consider transferring the action elsewhere. Perhaps recognizing the futility in
such an endeavor, Wal-Mart does not attempt to persuade this Court that it has jurisdiction; instead,
Wal-Mart focuses on demonstrating that subject matter jurisdiction lays in the Middle District.
Accordingly, because this Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it must remand the
For the foregoing reasons,
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Transfer and Consolidate (Rec. Doc. 3) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc. 7) is
GRANTED and that the case shall be REMANDED to the Civil District Court for the Parish of
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 16th day of September 2016.
KURT D. ENGELHARDT
United States District Judge
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