Lawrence v. Allstate Insurance Company et al
ORDER denying 30 Motion to Remand Signed by Chief District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr on 05/31/2017 (Guirola, Louis)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CAUSE NO. 1:16CV263-LG-RHW
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY
and JOHN OR JANE DOES 1-5
ORDER DENYING UNOPPOSED MOTION TO REMAND
BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion to Remand  filed by the defendant
Allstate Insurance Company. Although the parties have notified the Court that the
Motion is unopposed, the Court finds that remand would be inappropriate under
the circumstances presented.
In his Complaint, the plaintiff Jonathan Lawrence sought $45,000 in
underinsured motorists benefits from Allstate as well as unspecified amounts of
extra-contractual and punitive damages. Allstate removed the case to this Court on
the basis of diversity jurisdiction, claiming that the amount in controversy exceeded
$75,000. After the parties completed discovery, Allstate filed the present unopposed
Motion to Remand, because Lawrence has agreed to voluntarily dismiss his claims
for extra-contractual and punitive damages and “has agreed to stipulate that any
and all of his claims against Allstate Insurance Company will not ever exceed the
uninsured motorist coverage benefits available under the Allstate policies.” (Def.’s
Mot. at 2, ECF No. 30).1
“[A]ny 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
defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division
embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Original
federal diversity jurisdiction exists “where the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $75,000.00 exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . .
citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). After removal, a party may file a
motion for remand, and “[i]f it appears that the district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
The Fifth Circuit has provided the following guidance for determining
whether a post-removal amendment of the complaint affects the Court’s
[O]nce the district court’s jurisdiction is established, subsequent events
that reduce the amount in controversy to less than $75,000 generally
do not divest the court of diversity jurisdiction. The jurisdictional facts
that support removal must be judged at the time of removal. While
post-removal affidavits may be considered in determining the amount
in controversy at the time of removal, such affidavits may be
considered only if the basis for jurisdiction is ambiguous at the time of
removal. Additionally, if it is facially apparent from the petition that
the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 at the time of removal,
post-removal affidavits, stipulations, and amendments reducing the
amount do not deprive the district court of jurisdiction.
No stipulation or amended complaint reflecting a reduction of the amount in
controversy has been filed with the Court.
Gebbia v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 233 F.3d 880, 883 (5th Cir. 2000) (internal citations
In its Motion to Remand, Allstate asserts that it removed the case to this
Court on July 14, 2016, because Lawrence “was claiming damages in excess of
$75,000 and diversity existed.” (Def.’s Mot. at 1, ECF No. 30). Thus, there is no
indication that Lawrence’s initial demand for damages was ambiguous. Even if
Lawrence does at some point file a stipulation agreeing to accept less than $75,000
or amend his complaint to reduce the damages sought, those actions will not divest
the Court of jurisdiction unless Lawrence demonstrates that he actually sought less
than $75,000 at the time of removal. See St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab
Co., 303 U.S. 283, 292, 58 S. Ct. 586, 592, 82 L. Ed. 845 (1938)(holding that where a
plaintiff after removal, by stipulation, by affidavit, or by amendment of his
pleadings, reduces the claim below the requisite amount, it does not deprive the
district court of jurisdiction.)
Generally, remand is only proper when “it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Plaintiff is master of
his complaint and casual or imprudent demands for damages only invite removal.
But, since it appears that this Court has diversity jurisdiction, Allstate’s Motion to
Remand must be denied.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Motion to
Remand  filed by the defendant Allstate Insurance Company is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the parties shall
promptly notify the magistrate judge of this order and submit a proposed order
lifting the stay entered in this matter on May 25, 2017.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 31st day of May, 2017.
Louis Guirola, Jr.
LOUIS GUIROLA, JR.
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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