Darensbourg v. Sullivan et al
ORDER granting 6 Motion to Remand to State Court. Signed by Judge Eldon E. Fallon on 1/25/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter) (cms)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MARK SULLIVAN, ET AL
SECTION "L" (4)
ORDER & REASONS
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand. R. Doc. 6. Having reviewed the parties’
briefs and the applicable law, the Court now issues this Order & Reasons.
On July 8, 2016, Plaintiff Jeffery Darensbourg filed suit in Orleans Parish Civil District
Court to recover damages for injuries stemming from a collision between Plaintiff’s bicycle and
Defendant Mark Sullivan’s automobile on July 15, 2015. Plaintiff alleges he was riding his bicycle
eastbound on Decatur Street in New Orleans, Louisiana when Defendant, traveling eastbound in
his vehicle, struck Plaintiff. R. Doc. 1-7 at 1-2. Plaintiff claims Defendant acted negligently by
failing to maintain a proper lookout, pay attention to his surroundings and traffic conditions, and
observe due caution. Plaintiff avers he suffered bodily injuries and other damages as a result of
Defendant’s negligence. R. Doc. 1-7 at 2. Plaintiff seeks damages for past and future pain and
suffering and medical expenses, as well as property damage, loss of earnings, and loss of
enjoyment of life. R. Doc. 1-7 at 3. Defendant Safeco was Sullivan’s liability insurer, and Plaintiff
seeks to hold Defendants liable jointly, severely, and in solido for damages sustained as a result of
the collision. R. Doc. 1-7 at 2.
On December 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present motion to remand, arguing that this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) as the amount in controversy does not
exceed $75,000. R. Doc. 6-1 at 1. In the motion, Plaintiff certified that the amount in controversy
is $75,000 or less and renounced his right to enforce a judgment that is greater than $75,000. R.
Doc. 6-1 at 2. Defendants have not filed an opposition to Plaintiff’s motion.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Defendants have not opposed Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand, R. Doc. 6, which was set for
submission on January 18, 2017. Accordingly, this motion is deemed to be unopposed. The Court
nonetheless reviewed Plaintiff’s arguements and the applicable law.
A defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court if a federal court would have had
original jurisdiction over the issue. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal court has original jurisdiction
over cases involving complete diversity of citizenship among the parties where the amount in
controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The removing party bears the burden of
proving that a district court has jurisdiction over a matter. See Jernigan v. Ashland Oil Inc., 989
F.2d 812, 815 (5th Cir. 1993).
In this case, complete diversity exists and the only issue is sufficient jurisdictional amount.
R. Doc. 6-1 at 2. Because plaintiffs in Louisiana state courts may not specify the numerical value
of a damage claim, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has established an analytic framework for
resolving jurisdictional disputes over the amount in controversy when, as here, the Plaintiff does
not assert the amount of monetary damages. Luckett v. Delta Airlines, 171 F.3d 295, 298 (5th Cir.
1999). A defendant removing an action to federal court on basis of diversity jurisdiction must
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Id. If
a defendant satisfies this burden, the plaintiff must then prove “to a legal certainty” that the claim
is less than $75,000. De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1412 (5th Cir. 1995). If the amount
in controversy is ambiguous at the time of removal, the Court may consider a post-removal
stipulation only to determine the amount in controversy as of the date of removal. Gebbia v. WalMart Stores, Inc., 233 F.3d 880, 883 (5th Cir. 2000).
In this case, Defendants stated in their removal petition that the damages in this case were
reasonably expected to be in excess of $75,000. Although Plaintiff did not stipulate prior to
removal that his claim was less than $75,000, in the present motion he explains that his damages
are less than $75,000. The Court may consider a post-removal stipulation to determine the amount
in controversy as of the date of removal. Gebbia, 233 F.3d at 883. Because Plaintiff did not detail
his injuries or expected medical costs, the amount of damages requested in the initial petition are
ambiguous; his post-removal stipulation demonstrates that the amount in controversy is not
satisfied in this case, which is not contested. Therefore this matter is not properly before the Court.
For the aforementioned reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand, R.
Doc. 6, is shall be GRANTED.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 25th day of January, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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