Alfonso v. Interstate Cleaning Corporation
OPINION AND ORDER by Judge John E Dowdell ; denying 13 Motion to Remand (Re: State Court Petition/Complaint ) (SAS, Chambers)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
INTERSTATE CLEANING CORPORATION, )
Case No. 15-CV-706-JED-TLW
OPINION AND ORDER
Before the Court is plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to State Court (the “Motion”) (Doc. 13),
which defendant has opposed (Doc. 15). For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff’s Motion is
Plaintiff originally filed this case against defendant on August 18, 2015 in Tulsa County
District Court for injuries she sustained as a result of a slip-and-fall accident she alleges was caused
by defendant’s negligence. (Doc. 2 at 1). Plaintiff’s Petition requested damages against defendant
“in excess of $75,000 for actual damages, and a sum in excess of $75,000 in punitive damages,
plus interest, attorney fees, costs and other such relief as the Court may deem just and proper.”
(Doc. 2). Defendant removed the case to this Court on December 11, 2015 based on diversity
On March 18, 2016, plaintiff filed this Motion, claiming that the Court now lacks subject
matter jurisdiction based on plaintiff’s recent decision to stipulate that the recovery she seeks is
limited to $74,999.99. (Doc. 13, ¶¶ 3, 4, 6). Plaintiff’s Motion also states that defendant has no
objection to the Motion. (Doc. 13 at 5). Defendant’s Response acknowledges that it previously
did not oppose plaintiff’s Motion, but after conducting legal research, it concluded that a party
may not waive subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. 15, ¶¶ 4-5).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over an action between
diverse parties which involves an amount in controversy greater than $75,000.00. The “propriety
of removal is judged on the complaint as it stands at the time of the removal.” Pfeiffer v. Hartford
Fire Ins. Co., 929 F.2d 1484, 1488 (10th Cir. 1991). Here, the parties do not appear to dispute that
subject matter jurisdiction existed at the time of removal.
Under Supreme Court precedent, “events occurring subsequent to removal which reduce
the amount recoverable . . . do not oust the district court’s jurisdiction once it has attached.” St.
Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 293 (1938). It follows that despite a
plaintiff’s actions “after removal by stipulation, by affidavit, or by amendment of his pleadings,
[to] reduce the claim below the requisite amount, this does not deprive the district court of
jurisdiction.” Id. at 292. Other circuits, including the Tenth Circuit, have vigorously enforced the
Supreme Court’s mandate. See, e.g., Rogers v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 230 F.3d 868, 872 (6th Cir.
2000) (“We conclude that post-removal stipulations do not create an exception to the rule
articulated in St. Paul. Because jurisdiction is determined as of the time of removal, events
occurring after removal that reduce the amount in controversy do not oust jurisdiction.”); Miera v.
Dairyland Ins. Co., 143 F.3d 1337, 1340 (10th Cir. 1998) (“Once jurisdiction has attached, events
subsequently defeating it by reducing the amount in controversy are unavailing.”); Russell v. Geico
Gen. Ins. Co., 2015 WL 4394490, at *2 (N.D. Okla. July 16, 2015) (“[T]he parties’ stipulation that
plaintiff cannot recover more than $75,000 does not divest this Court of its pre-existing subject
matter jurisdiction under § 1332(a).”).
Binding precedent makes clear that plaintiff cannot defeat subject matter jurisdiction
simply by filing a post-removal stipulation to reduce the amount in controversy. Accordingly,
plaintiff’s stipulation has no effect on the determination that the Court properly had jurisdiction
over this case at the time of removal. Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to State Court (Doc. 13) is
SO ORDERED this 28th day of December, 2016.
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