Knight Transportation Services, Inc. v. Henderson
ORDER AND REASONS severing this matter from Civil Action 17-1308 and REMANDING case to state court. Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo on 10/3/17. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter)(ecm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
DAMON GHOLAR ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is a Motion to Remand filed by Plaintiff Belinda
Henderson (Doc. 14). For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.
This action arises out of a motor vehicle accident that took place on
March 7, 2016. Belinda Henderson alleges that her vehicle was struck from
behind by a truck owned by Knight Transportation Services, Inc. (“Knight”)
and driven by Damon Gholar. 1
On February 13, 2017 Knight sued Henderson in state court to recover
$959.63 it claimed to have overpaid Henderson in compensation for damage to
her vehicle. Knight asserted claims for fraud, intentional misrepresentation,
Doc. 2 at 2–3.
negligent misrepresentation, conversion, and unjust enrichment. 2 On
February 22, 2017 Henderson sued Knight in this Court for personal injury
and property damage arising from the car accident. 3 Henderson’s case is Civil
Action No. 17-1308. On July 21, 2017 Henderson answered Knight’s state
action, asserting a reconventional demand against Knight that consisted of the
same claims Henderson made in this Court as well as a claim for defamation. 4
On August 4, 2017 Knight removed the state court action to this District Court
and received the designation Civil Action No. 17-7504. 5 The removed case was
subsequently transferred to this section and consolidated with Henderson’s
federal action. 6
Henderson now moves to remand on the grounds that Knight, as plaintiff
in the state court action, did not have the statutory authority to remove the
case. Knight opposes the Motion, arguing that it removed as defendant-inreconvention.
Generally, a defendant may remove a civil state court action to federal
court if the federal court has original jurisdiction over the action. 7 The burden
is on the removing party to show “that federal jurisdiction exists and that
removal was proper.” 8 When determining whether federal jurisdiction exists,
courts consider “the claims in the state court petition as they existed at the
time of removal.” 9 “In making a jurisdictional assessment, a federal court is
No. 17-7504 Doc. 2-2.
4 No. 17-7504 Doc. 2-12.
5 No. 17-7504 Doc. 1.
6 Doc. 12.
7 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
8 Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002).
not limited to the pleadings; it may look to any record evidence, and may
receive affidavits, deposition testimony or live testimony concerning the facts
underlying the citizenship of the parties.” 10 Removal statutes should be strictly
construed, and any doubt should be resolved in favor of remand. 11
LAW AND ANALYSIS
The federal removal statute states that, “any civil action brought in a
State court of which the district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district
court.” 12 Congress’s use of “defendant” is restrictive, contracting removal
power that was previously granted to any party. 13 A plaintiff may not remove
on the basis of a reconventional demand or counter-claim. 14 Here, Knight
Transportation removed a state court action that it originally filed as a
plaintiff. Because Knight is not a defendant in that action, it does not have
removal power. Accordingly, Civil Action No. 17-7504 is severed and
Henderson appears to request that the entire consolidated action be
remanded, including Civil Action No. 17-1308 that Henderson herself filed in
this Court. However, Knight’s lack of power to remove Knight’s state suit has
no bearing on Henderson’s federal suit. Henderson cites no authority stating
Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 249 (5th Cir. 1996).
Manguno, 276 F.3d at 723.
12 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
13 See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 104–06 (1941).
14 See In re Crystal Power Co., Ltd., 641 F.3d 78, 81 (5th Cir.), opinion withdrawn
and superseded on reh’g on other grounds, 641 F.3d 82 (5th Cir. 2011) (explaining the
holding of Shamrock Oil).
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff Henderson’s Motion to Remand is
GRANTED. Civil Action No. 17-7504 is severed and remanded.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 3rd day of October, 2017.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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