Williams v. Wal-mart Stores East, LP et al
ORDER denying 5 Motion to Remand to State Court. The parties are directed to contact the chambers of United States Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball to set this case for a case-management conference. Signed by Chief District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III on November 13, 2023. (EHP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
SHERRY LYNETTE WILLIAMS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:23-CV-570-DPJ-FKB
WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP
D/B/A WALMART AND JOHN DOE
While Sherry Lynette Williams was standing in the check-out line at Wal-Mart, an
employee attempted to remove a large box from a shelf above her. The employee lost control of
the box, and it struck Williams. Williams sued Wal-Mart and the John Doe employee in state
court, and Wal-Mart removed the case based on diversity of citizenship. Williams, claiming the
John Doe Defendant is a Mississippi resident and destroys diversity jurisdiction, moved to
remand. Mot.  at 3. Wal-Mart responded in opposition, and Williams neglected to reply.
Having considered the parties’ positions, the Court finds the motion to remand  should be
Facts and Procedural History
Williams believes the John Doe Wal-Mart employee “was negligent in attempting to
remove the box at a time when [she] was in harm’s way, and in losing control of the box,
allowing it to strike [her].” Compl. [1-1] at 2. She says she “suffered injuries and damages” and
seeks $400,000 in compensation. Id. at 3.
As mentioned, Wal-Mart removed the case based on diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a); see Notice  at 3. It contends the amount is controversy is met, as Williams seeks
more than $75,000 in damages. And complete diversity of citizenship exists because Williams is
a Mississippi resident, Wal-Mart is a citizen of Delaware and Arkansas, and “the citizenship of
defendants sued under fictitious names shall be disregarded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).
Williams then filed a combined “Response to Notice of Removal and Motion to Remand
to State Court” , insisting that John Doe “is an anonymous Defendant, not a fictitious one.”
Mot.  at 2. She intends to supplement his “true name and identity” and indicates he is a
diversity-spoiling Mississippi resident. Id. at 3. Wal-Mart responded, pointing out that Williams
has not yet supplemented so removal is proper. Mem.  at 3. Williams declined to file a reply,
and the time to do so has passed. The Court considers the briefing complete.
A party may remove a case from state to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) when,
on the face of the complaint, it appears the case invokes one or more grounds for federal subjectmatter jurisdiction. Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1336 (5th Cir. 1995). Where,
as here, federal subject-matter jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, § 1332(a)
controls. Section 1332(a) provides that “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of
interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different states.” “The party seeking to invoke
federal diversity jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing both that the parties are diverse and
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.” Garcia v. Koch Oil Co. of Tex., 351 F.3d 636,
638 (5th Cir. 2003).
Williams’s motion to remand hinges on her beliefs that (1) the John Doe Wal-Mart
employee is a Mississippi resident and (2) her intention to later supplement the pleading destroys
diversity. Mot.  at 3 (“The Plaintiff has set forth in her Complaint [MEC 1] that the true name
and identity of the John Doe Defendant will be supplemented at a later time, and that said
Defendant is an adult resident of the state of Mississippi, thus destroying the claim of the
Defendant Walmart that complete diversity of citizenship exist.”) (unaltered). Even if Williams
is correct that a later addition of a diversity-destroying defendant requires remand, she has not
yet made such a supplementation. See Doleac v. Michalson, 264 F.3d 470, 475 (5th Cir. 2001).
For now, as Wal-Mart points out, “the citizenship of defendants sued under fictitious names shall
be disregarded.” Weaver v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 939 F.3d 618, 623 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b)(1)); see Vaillancourt v. PNC Bank, Nat’l Ass’n, 771 F.3d 843, 848 n.38 (5th
Cir. 2014) (“No claims are asserted in the complaint against the John and Jane Doe defendants.
Even if they were, ‘the citizenship of defendants sued under fictitious names shall be
disregarded.’ 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).”).
The Court has considered all arguments raised by the parties; those not addressed would
not have changed the conclusion. For the reasons stated, Plaintiff’s motion to remand is denied.
The parties are directed to contact the chambers of United States Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball
to set this case for a case-management conference.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 13th day of November, 2023.
s/ Daniel P. Jordan III
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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