Armour v. Schneider National Carriers, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion to Remand to State Court is DENIED. (ECF No. 11) Signed by District Judge Jean C. Hamilton on 9/29/16. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ROBERT J. ARMOUR,
SCHNEIDER NATIONAL CARRIERS, INC., )
Case No. 4:16CV1328 JCH
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to State Court, filed August
29, 2016. (ECF No. 11). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
On June 30, 2016, Plaintiff Robert J. Armour filed his Petition for Personal Injury against
Defendants Schneider National Carriers, Inc. (“Schneider”) and Michael T. Mullen (“Mullen”) in
the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri. (Petition, ECF No. 8 (hereinafter “Complaint” or
“Compl.”)). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he was driving an automobile traveling eastbound on
Interstate 70 in St. Louis County, Missouri, on June 22, 2015, when Mullen, while driving a tractortrailer owned by Schneider, negligently collided with the driver’s side of Plaintiff’s automobile.
(Compl., ¶¶ 4, 6, 9-10). Plaintiff claims that as a result of Defendants’ negligence1, he “sustained
injuries and damages to his chest, heart, and body as a whole along with the ligaments, nerves,
1 Plaintiff claims Mullen acted negligently by, among other things, failing to have his truck
under proper control, and failing to maintain proper lane usage, while Schneider acted
negligently by, among other things, failing properly to instruct and train its agents, servants and
employees on how properly and safely to operate a service truck, and by hiring and retaining
Mullen as an employee when Schneider knew or should have known of his dangerous
-- 1 --
tissues, tendons, and muscles.” (Id., ¶ 12). Plaintiff asserts he sustained pain of body and mind and
incurred medical expenses in the past, and would sustain such pain and incur such expenses in the
future as well. (Id.). In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff requests damages, “in the amount that is fair
and reasonable, and not in excess of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000.00) to be inserted
together with costs extended herein, and for such other and further relief as this court deems just and
proper in the premises.” (Id., P. 4).
On August 16, 2016, Defendants removed this action to the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Missouri, claiming diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332.
(Defendants’ Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1). Defendants assert that, notwithstanding Plaintiff’s
contention he seeks damages less than $75,000.00, the amount in controversy actually exceeds
$75,000.00. Defendants maintain Plaintiff’s claims of past and future pain, injury and necessary
medical care, together with his earlier settlement demand seeking $125,000.00, establish the
requisite federal amount in controversy. (Id., ¶¶ 15-22; ECF No. 1-7).
As noted above, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand to State Court on August 29,
2016, stating in part as follows:
That pursuant to Workman v. Kawasaki Motors Corporation, U.S.A.,
Plaintiff stipulates to the following: 1) Plaintiff irrevocably agrees that the
amount of damages claimed in this action is and will forever be less than
$75,000.00 exclusive of interest and costs; 2) Plaintiff hereby irrevocably
agrees to the entry of an order of court which places an irrevocable cap upon
the damages which may be sought by or awarded to Plaintiff in this case.
This cap shall be set at $74,999.99 exclusive of interest and costs; and 3)
Plaintiff agrees, acknowledges, and understands that this stipulation is
binding upon him and cannot be rescinded or revoked under any
circumstances regardless of any development which may occur during the
investigation, discovery, pretrial, or trial of this action.
(ECF No. 11, P. 1).
proclivities. (Compl., ¶¶ 10, 11).
-- 2 --
“’[T]he party seeking removal and opposing remand…ha[s] the burden of establishing
federal subject matter jurisdiction.’” Vermillion v. Cornwell Quality Tools Co., 2015 WL 4459098,
at *1 (E.D. Mo. Jul. 21, 2015) (quoting In re Bus. Men’s Assur. Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th
Cir. 1993)). The amount in controversy requirement of diversity jurisdiction is strictly construed,
and all doubts concerning federal jurisdiction are resolved in favor of remand. Lowe v. First
Financial Ins. Co., 2015 WL 753139, at *2 (W.D. Mo. Feb. 23, 2015); Williams v. National Credit
Adjusters, LLC, 2014 WL 5823457, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 10, 2014).
The Eighth Circuit has articulated the standard to apply in determining whether a federal
court has subject matter jurisdiction in a removed case, as follows: “Where, as here, the complaint
alleges no specific amount of damages or an amount under the jurisdictional minimum, the removing
party...must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000.” In re Minnesota Mut. Life Ins. Co. Sales Practices Litigation, 346 F.3d 830, 834 (8th Cir.
2003) (citation omitted). The Eighth Circuit further has held that, “[t]his amount-in-controversy
requirement is satisfied when a fact finder could legally conclude, from the pleadings and the proof
adduced to the court before trial, that the damages that the plaintiff suffered are greater than
$75,000.” Capitol Indem. Corp. v. 1405 Associates, Inc., 340 F.3d 547, 549 (8th Cir. 2003) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
In their response to Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand, Defendants assert his claims meet the
amount in controversy requirement because: 1) he alleges he has suffered and will suffer severe
pain and injury; 2) he alleges he has expended money for necessary medical care, services, and
treatment in excess of $36,134.00, and will be required to expend more in the future; and 3) he has
made a demand for settlement in the amount of $125,000.00. (Defendants’ Joint Response to
Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand, PP. 4-5). Upon consideration, the Court finds Defendants’ argument
persuasive. Specifically, in light of the extent to which Plaintiff’s injuries are pled, this Court cannot
-- 3 --
find, as a matter of law, that his damages will not exceed $75,000.00. See Quinn v. Kimble, 228
F.Supp.2d 1038, 1040-41 (E.D. Mo. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) (“The
jurisdictional fact in this case is not whether the damages are greater than the requisite amount, but
whether a fact finder might legally conclude that they are....As defendant points out, a jury could
award the requisite jurisdictional amount, given that plaintiff suffered head, neck, and back
injuries; incurred medical expenses and will incur further such expenses....”). Plaintiff’s Motion to
Remand to State Court will therefore be denied.2
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to State Court (ECF No. 11)
Day of September, 2016.
\s\ Jean C. Hamilton
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The Court recognizes that in cases in which state law prevents the plaintiff from demanding a
specific amount of damages in his Petition, some judges have permitted post-removal affidavits to be
considered, “to the extent that they clarify, rather than amend, the original pleading.” Neighbors v.
Muha, 2005 WL 2346968, at *3 (W.D. Mo. Sep. 26, 2005) (citation omitted); see also Slavin v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2005 WL 3274337, at *2-3 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 2, 2005). Those rulings
do not help Plaintiff here, however, as the Motion to Remand is neither signed by Plaintiff nor
notarized, and thus cannot constitute a, “binding stipulation by plaintiff filed both in state and
federal court stating that [plaintiff] does not seek, and will not ask for or accept an amount in
damages in excess of $75,000 exclusive of interest and costs....” Slavin, 2005 WL 3274337, at *3.
Should Plaintiff “submit an affidavit or other binding declaration that he will not seek or accept in
State court more than the federal diversity jurisdictional amount….such a post-removal attestation
would warrant remand.” Fainer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2009 WL 911724, at *3 (E.D.
Mo. Apr. 1, 2009) (citations omitted).
-- 4 --
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?