Coffin, et al v. Dr Pepper Snapple Group
DECISION AND ORDER regarding 3 Response to 2 Order to Show Cause. The Court finds that Defendant has shown to a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and this Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). SO ORDERED. Signed by Hon. Frank P. Geraci, Jr. on 10/26/17. (JO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
JEFFEREY R. COFFIN and SUE COFFIN,
DECISION AND ORDER
DR. PEPPER SNAPPLE GROUP, INC.,
On January 15, 2015, while parked in a parking lot owned by Defendant Dr. Pepper
Snapple Group, Inc., Plaintiff Jefferey R. Coffin injured his right shoulder and lower back after he
slipped and fell while inspecting his truck. Jefferey and his wife, Plaintiff Sue Coffin, sued
Defendant in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Seneca, alleging that
Defendant’s negligence caused Jefferey’s injuries. Defendant, citing the diversity jurisdiction of
federal courts under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, removed the case to this Court. See ECF No. 1. The Court
ordered Defendant to show cause why the case should not be remanded to the New York State
Supreme Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 2. Defendant responded. See
ECF No. 3. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that Defendant has shown to a reasonable
probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and that this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction whose power is limited strictly by Article
III of the Constitution and congressional statute.” United Food & Commercial Workers Union,
Local 919, AFL-CIO v. CenterMark Props. Meriden Square, Inc., 30 F.3d 298, 303 (2d Cir. 1994)
(citing Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986)). Judicial scrutiny is
particularly important where, as here, the defendant has removed the case from state court.
DiPonzio v. Bank of Am. Corp., No. 11-CV-06192, 2011 WL 2693912, at *2 (W.D.N.Y. July 11,
2011) (noting that “removal implicates both state court independence and the federal docket”); see
also Houston v. Scheno, No. 06-CV-2901, 2007 WL 2230093, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. July 31, 2007).
The Second Circuit has cautioned district courts to “construe the removal statute narrowly,
resolving any doubts against removability.” Lupo v. Human Affairs Int’l, Inc., 28 F.3d 269, 274
(2d Cir. 1994) (citing Somlyo v. J. Lu-Rob Enters., Inc., 932 F.2d 1043, 1045-46 (2d Cir.1991)).
Thus, with respect to the amount in controversy requirement under § 1332, the removing party
must prove “to a reasonable probability” that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000. Mehlenbacher v. Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc., 216 F.3d 291, 296 (2d Cir. 2000); Uddin v.
Mamdani, No. 16CV4385, 2016 WL 4536870, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 30, 2016).
Here, Defendant has met that burden. In response to the Order to Show Cause, Defendant’s
counsel submitted an attorney affirmation detailing Jefferey’s injuries and the liens against any
future judgment maintained by the Workers’ Compensation insurance company for Jefferey’s
employer (“WCIC”). 1 See ECF No. 3. Specifically, Defendant’s counsel notes that Jefferey
experienced pain in his right shoulder and right lower back. Treatments to both areas required a
back brace, cane, walker, sling, immobilizer, over ten medications, an MRI, and additional
procedures, including a bone graft. ECF No. 3 at 2, ¶ 6.
Additionally, the WCIC currently
maintains liens against any future judgment for $51,195.67 in medical payments and $47,149.88
in lost wages. 2 See id. at ¶ 7.
Under New York Workers’ Compensation Law § 29, Jefferey may simultaneously receive compensation and medical
benefits from his employer’s WCIC and sue Defendant for negligence that resulted in his injuries, which in turn led
him to incur medical expenses and lost wages. See Arena v. Crown Ashpalt Co., 292 740 N.Y.S.2d 472, 474-77 (3d
Dep’t 2002). The WCIC may file a lien against any future judgment to satisfy payments of medical expenses and lost
wages to Jefferey. See id.
Defendant’s counsel uses the word “indemnity” in his affirmation. ECF No. 3 at 2, ¶ 7. It appears that “indemnity”
is synonymous with “lost wages” in the Workers’ Compensation context. See N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law §§ 15 &
Even if the Court assumes that the WCIC has covered all of Jefferey’s medical expenses,
the sum of medical expenses and lost wages surpasses $75,000. Accordingly, the Court finds that
Defendant has shown to a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000
and the Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
For the reasons stated above, the Court finds that Defendant has shown to a reasonable
probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: October 26, 2017
Rochester, New York
HON. FRANK P. GERACI, JR.
United States District Court
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