Williamson et al v. SL Western Lounge, LLC
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER (See Full Order) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant shall show cause in writing no later than March 17, 2017, why this case should not be remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction by supplementing its Notice of Removal as set out above. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 3/9/17. (EAB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
KAREN WILLIAMSON, et al.,
SL WESTERN LOUNGE, LLC,
Case No. 4:17 CV 810 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
This newly-removed case has been recently reassigned to me and is before
me on my review for subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs filed this action against
defendant for personal injuries arising from a mechanical bull riding accident by
plaintiff Karen Williamson. Defendant removed this action to this Court on March
1, 2017, alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
The Eighth Circuit has admonished district courts to “be attentive to a
satisfaction of jurisdictional requirements in all cases.” Sanders v. Clemco
Industries, 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir. 1987). “A defendant may remove a state
law claim to federal court only if the action originally could have been filed there.”
In re Prempro Products Liability Litigation, 591 F.3d 613, 619 (8th Cir. 2010)
(citing Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)). 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. §
In removal cases, the district court reviews the state court 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)(ii). The removing defendant, as the party invoking
jurisdiction, bears the burden of proving that all prerequisites to jurisdiction are
satisfied. Central Iowa Power Co-op. v. Midwest Independent Transmission
System Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009). “[A]ll doubts about
federal jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of remand[.]” Id.
Ordinarily, “the matter in controversy [must] excee[d] the sum or value of
$75,000.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). When the plaintiff’s complaint does not state the
amount in controversy, the defendant’s notice of removal may do so. 28 U.S.C. §
1446(c)(2)(a). “[W]hen a defendant seeks federal-court adjudication, the
defendant’s amount-in-controversy allegation should be accepted when not
contested by the plaintiff or questioned by the court.” Dart Cherokee Basin
Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S. Ct. 547, 553 (U.S. Dec. 15, 2014) (emphasis
supplied). “Evidence establishing the amount in controversy is required by §
1446(c)(2)(B) only when . . . the court questions the defendant’s allegation.” Id. at
554. When a court makes a factual inquiry into the amount in controversy issue,
“the court can consider the plaintiff’s pre- and post- removal settlement offers,
refusals to settle, allegations of serious injuries in the pleadings, and post-removal
stipulations, as long as the stipulation can be considered as clarifying rather than
amending an original pleading.” Jackson v. Fitness Resource Group, Inc., No.
4:12CV 986 DDN, 2012 WL 2873668, at *2 (E.D. Mo. July 12, 2012) (emphasis
in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Here, the petition alleges only that plaintiff Karen Williamson was thrown
from a mechanical bull, sustaining “serious and permanent personal injuries” and
“large medical bills.” Her husband Randy brings a loss of consortium claim
related to these alleged injuries. The petition does not state a specific amount of
damages and seeks only the state-court jurisdictional minimum of a sum greater
than $25,000. Defendant cites only these barebones allegations as evidence that
the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. I question whether the amount in
controversy has been met, as state court petitions which seek an unspecified
amount of damages do not establish damages in excess of the jurisdictional amount
and do not start the thirty-day time limit for removal. See Knudson v. Systems
Painters, Inc., 634 F.3d 968, 974 (8th Cir. 2011).
As a result, I will give defendant until March 17, 2017, to supplement its
Notice of Removal to provide sufficient evidence that would allow me to find, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds the
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant shall show cause in writing no
later than March 17, 2017, why this case should not be remanded for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction by supplementing its Notice of Removal as set out
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 9th day of March, 2017.
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