Biomedical Systems Corporation v. Crawford
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF REMAND. (See Full Order.) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff Biomedical Systems Corporation's Motion to Remand [ECF # 9 ] is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is remanded to the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, from which it was removed. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 1/13/2016. (Certified copy of Order and docket sheet sent to St. Louis County Circuit Court this date.)(CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
No. 4:15CV1775 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF REMAND
Plaintiff Biomedical Systems Corporation (Biomedical) filed this action against
its former employee, Cheryl Crawford, in Missouri state court alleging that she
breached the Confidentiality, Nondislosure and Noncompetition Agreement
(Agreement) she had with Biomedical when she became associated with a
competitor, eResearch Technology, Inc. (ERT), shortly after she resigned from her
position with Biomedical. Crawford removed this action to this Court on December
2, 2015, alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Upon removal, I
questioned whether the amount in controversy met the jurisdictional threshold to
establish diversity jurisdiction, and I ordered Crawford to supplement her Notice of
Removal with sufficient evidence for me to find by a preponderance of the evidence
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Crawford filed her supplement, and
Biomedical filed a separate motion to remand the case to state court. Because
Crawford has failed to establish the amount in controversy by a preponderance of the
evidence, I will remand the matter to state court.
In removal cases, the district court reviews the complaint or petition pending at
the time of removal to determine the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. St. Paul
Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 291 (1938). The district court
may also look to the Notice of Removal to determine its jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §
1446(c)(2)(A). The removing defendant, as the party invoking jurisdiction, bears the
burden of proving that all prerequisites to jurisdiction are satisfied at the time of
removal. Schubert v. Auto Owners Ins. Co., 649 F.3d 817, 822 (8th Cir. 2011)
(“axiomatic [that] the court’s jurisdiction is measured at the time . . . of removal.”);
Central Iowa Power Co-op. v. Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561
F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009) (removing party has burden of establishing
Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires an amount in
controversy greater than $75,000 and complete diversity of citizenship among the
litigants. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). A party removing a diversity action to federal court
must prove the amount in controversy by a preponderance of the evidence. Bell v.
Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir. 2009). Under this standard, “the
jurisdictional fact . . . is not whether the damages are greater than the requisite
amount, but whether a fact finder might legally conclude that they are[.]” Id. at 959
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted) (alteration and emphasis in Bell).
Crawford’s Notice of Removal acknowledged that Biomedical’s state-court
petition did not assert an amount in controversy, but claimed that the requisite amount
was met because of the compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees sought by
Biomedical. As noted in my Order to supplement, however, nothing in Biomedical’s
petition showed the amount of damages sought, nor provided a basis upon which an
amount could be determined. In her supplement, Crawford relies on three things to
establish the amount in controversy: 1) media accounts showing Biomedical’s annual
revenues to exceed $75 million; 2) a page from the website of Bryan, Cave – the law
firm employed by Biomedical in this action – showing it to be “a global law firm with
more than 1000 highly skilled lawyers” and “25 offices across North America,
Europe and Asia”; and 3) an e-mail from Biomedical’s counsel wherein he declines
to stipulate to an amount in controversy. In light of Biomedical’s multi-milliondollar revenues, Crawford argues that its claimed potential loss of customer
relationships and goodwill – when combined with attorneys’ fees likely to be incurred
by a large law firm in the region – results in an amount in controversy easily
exceeding $75,000. Crawford further claims that the injunctive relief sought by
Biomedical would prevent her from earning a living, further adding to the value of
the object of this litigation.
To establish the requisite amount in controversy by a preponderance of the
evidence, Biomedical is required to present “some specific facts or evidence
demonstrating that the jurisdictional amount has been met[.]” Hill v. Ford Motor
Co., 324 F. Supp. 2d 1028, 1036 (E.D. Mo. 2004). Instead of submitting facts or
evidence specific to this litigation, Crawford asks me to rely on the general revenues
of Biomedical and its retention of an established law firm to find that the requisite
amount in controversy has been met here.1 This non-specific information, however,
invites only speculation as to the value of this litigation. “Speculation and belief that
plaintiff’s damages exceed $75,000.00 are insufficient to meet the defendant’s burden
of proof[.]” Id. Nor does Biomedical’s failure to stipulate to the amount of damages
provide sufficient evidence that the $75,000 threshold is met. See Branch v. Wheaton
Van Lines, Inc., No. 4:14-CV-01735 AGF, 2014 WL 6461372, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Nov.
17, 2014). Finally, to the extent Crawford contends that the object of this litigation
would prevent her from earning a living, she has presented no evidence supporting
this assertion, and I see nothing in the petition suggesting that this litigation could
result in her being precluded from engaging in any and all employment
I cannot say on the record now before the Court that Crawford has proved by a
preponderance of the evidence that the requisite jurisdictional amount is in
In a subsequent filing, Crawford also asks me to consider Biomedical’s representations made in a
related declaratory judgment action now pending in a Pennsylvania state court that would indicate
that this matter cannot resolve quickly and will require extensive discovery, thereby increasing the
amount of attorneys’ fees to be incurred. (See ECF #12, Deft.’s Resp. to Mot. Rem.) While I
can look to events subsequent to removal if they are relevant to the existence of diversity
jurisdiction at the time of the removal, Schubert, 649 F.3d at 822-23, I am reluctant to impute to this
litigation subsequent conduct in another lawsuit in order to meet the jurisdictional amount. See
Commercial Coverage, Inc. v. Paradigm Ins. Co., 998 F. Supp. 1088, 1092 (E.D. Mo. 1998).
Indeed, to be enforceable, confidentiality and non-compete agreements must be reasonable and
consider an employee’s interest “in having mobility between employers to provide for their families
and advance their careers.” Whelan Sec. Co. v. Kennebrew, 379 S.W.3d 835, 841 (Mo. banc 2012).
controversy. Because I must resolve all doubts about federal jurisdiction in favor of
remand, Central Iowa Power Co-op., 561 F.3d at 912, I will remand this case back to
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff Biomedical Systems Corporation’s
Motion to Remand [ECF #9] is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is remanded to the Circuit Court
of St. Louis County, Missouri, from which it was removed.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 13th day of January, 2016.
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