Johnson v. Cajun Operating Company d/b/a Church's Chicken
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion To Remand (Docket No. 7) is granted. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this matter is remanded to the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis. Granting 7 Motion to Remand Case to State Court. Signed by Magistrate Judge Frederick R. Buckles on 10/12/2012. (NCL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CAJUN OPERATING COMPANY d/b/a
Case No. 4:12CV685 FRB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Presently before this Court is Plaintiff’s Motion To
(Docket No. 7).
All matters are pending before the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the
parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
(“plaintiff”) filed a Petition in the Circuit Court for the City of
St. Louis against defendant Cajun Operating Company, d/b/a Church’s
Chicken (“defendant”), seeking recovery for injuries allegedly
restaurant operated by defendant.
On April 13, 2012, defendant
removed the matter to this Court, alleging that this is an action
which may be removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a) and 1441.
(Docket No. 1).
In support, defendant alleged that the parties are
diverse, and that a reasonable reading of plaintiff’s Petition
shows that plaintiff has placed an amount in controversy greater
(Id. at pages 1-2).
On April 17, 2012, plaintiff filed the instant Motion To
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Therein, while plaintiff admits that complete diversity
exists between the parties, she asserts that the maximum recovery
$75,000.00, inasmuch as her damages could never exceed that amount.
Plaintiff states that her medical bills total $2,876.00, and that
she had previously submitted a demand to defendant’s insurance
company for a total of $50,000.00 to fully resolve her claim, and
attaches a copy of that demand letter in support.
plaintiff described the slip and fall
In that letter,
incident and resulting
injuries, which were diagnosed as a right knee contusion and neck
Plaintiff also described receiving conservative medical
treatment and physical therapy.
In the instant Motion, plaintiff
restates her willingness to settle her case for $50,000.00, and
argues that defendant’s position that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75,000.00 is disingenuous given its refusal to accept her
demand for a far lesser amount.
Defendant objects to plaintiff’s motion to remand. In
support, defendant argues that, given the nature of the allegations
in plaintiff’s Petition, a jury could award damages in excess of
Defendant also takes issue with plaintiff’s statement
that her damages could never exceed $75,000.00,
plaintiff’s offer to settle for $50,000.00 does not mean that she
In reply, plaintiff filed the Affidavit Of Scott A.
Bailey In Support Of Plaintiff’s Motion To Remand. (Docket No. 11,
There, Mr. Bailey, counsel for plaintiff, averred
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$3,000.00 in medical bills, and was not seeking $75,000.00 for her
Mr. Bailey further averred that, should the
matter proceed to trial, he would “ask the jury to render a verdict
for something less than the jurisdictional amount.”
involving diverse parties only when “the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum or value of $75,000.00, exclusive of interest and
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
The determination of whether the
amount in controversy requirement is satisfied is made at the time
Hartridge v. Aetna Cas. 7 Sur. Co., 415 F.2d 809, 814
(8th Cir. 1969).
As the party seeking removal and opposing remand,
defendant has the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction.
re Business Men’s Assur. Co. of America, 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th
Doubts concerning federal jurisdiction should be
resolved in favor of remand.
In the Petition she filed in state court, plaintiff did
not seek an amount greater than $75,000.00, and instead sought only
restricted by Missouri law from demanding a specific amount in
damages for her claim, and was permitted only to demand an amount
as was fair and reasonable.
Mo. R. Civ. P. 55.05.
When state law
prohibits plaintiffs from specifying damages in their state court
petitions, this Court and others within the Eighth Circuit have
settlement offers, allegations of serious injuries, and postremoval affidavits, to the extent such facts clarify (rather than
amend) the original state court pleading.
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McGuire v. J.B. Hunt
Transp., Inc., 2010 WL 2399550, *3 (E.D. Mo. June 10, 2010); see
also Ingram v. Procter & Gamble Paper Prods. Co., 2011 WL 1564060,
*2 (E.D. Mo. April 25, 2011) (collecting cases) (post-removal
affidavits may be considered to determine whether jurisdiction has
attached, as long as the affidavit can be considered as clarifying
rather than amending the original state court pleading). While the
requirements for diversity jurisdiction may be satisfied only with
respect to the time of filing, other events may be relevant to
prove the existence or nonexistence of such jurisdiction at the
time of filing.
Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Universal Crop Protection
Alliance, LLC, 620 F.3d 926, 932-33 (8th Cir. 2010).
The following clarifies the amount actually sought in
plaintiff alleges medical expenses in the amount of $2,876.00 and,
injuries that required only conservative treatment.
jurisdictional amount. In the December 22, 2011 demand letter sent
Petition, she demanded $50,000.00 in full settlement of her claims.
This is indicative of the amount plaintiff intended to seek when
she subsequently filed her Petition in state court.
with her first demand, in the instant motion, plaintiff stated her
Finally, plaintiff’s counsel submitted a sworn affidavit stating
that the value of plaintiff’s claim is less than $75,000.00, and
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that plaintiff would ask for an amount less than that were the case
to proceed to trial.
Defendant’s argument that a jury could award plaintiff in
excess of $75,000.00 is merely speculative, and the undersigned
establishing federal jurisdiction. See In re Business Men’s Assur.
Co. of America, 992 F.2d at 183.
All of the facts in evidence
consistently demonstrate that plaintiff’s state court Petition
seeks an amount less than $75,000.00.
Plaintiff’s state court
Petition demands less than that amount; she submitted a demand
totaling only $50,000.00 and indicated her continued willingness to
settle for that amount; and she submitted an affidavit swearing
Jurisdiction has therefore not attached.
Because the amount in controversy requirement is not met,
this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and must remand this
case to state court.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion To Remand
(Docket No. 7) is granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this matter is remanded to the
Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis.
Frederick R. Buckles
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dated this 12th day of October, 2012.
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