Alexander v. Moore
ORDER OF REMAND. Signed by the Honorable R Bryan Harwell on 11/20/2017. (lsut, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Mary JC Alexander,
Clifton Eugene Moore,
Civil Action No.: 4:17-cv-02727-RBH
ORDER OF REMAND
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant is permitted to remove a case to federal court if
the court would have had original jurisdiction over the matter. District courts have original
jurisdiction “where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of
interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
Removal statutes are strictly construed against removal, and any doubts concerning the
propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of retained state court jurisdiction. Marshall v.
Manville Sales Corp., 6 F.3d 229, 232 (4th Cir. 1993). In addition, “[t]he party seeking removal
bears the burden of demonstrating that removal jurisdiction is proper.” In Re Blackwater
Security Consulting, LLC, 460 F.3d 576, 583 (4th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). This includes
establishing compliance with the removal statute requirements. See Marler v. Amoco Oil Co.,
793 F. Supp. 656, 658-59 (E.D.N.C. 1992). Courts must narrowly interpret removal jurisdiction
because of the significant federalism concerns that are raised by removing proceedings from
state court. Id. Thus, all doubts are resolved in favor of remand. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp.
v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); see also Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co.,
Inc., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994).
In the instant matter, Defendant removed this case from the South Carolina Court of
Common Pleas for Florence County pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. Defendant based
federal jurisdiction on diversity jurisdiction pursuant to §1332. However, Plaintiff did not
specify any monetary amount of damages or clearly allege the jurisdictional amount in the
Complaint, and Defendant’s notice of removal failed to allege facts adequate to establish that
the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount.
Because the amount in controversy was unclear and this Court may have lacked
diversity jurisdiction, the Court entered an Order instructing Defendant to brief the Court and
show cause why this case should not be remanded to the State court for the foregoing reasons.
The Court also instructed Plaintiff to file a response not later than five calendar days thereafter
including a clarification as to whether Plaintiff intended to pursue, at the time of filing the
original complaint, damages in excess of the jurisdictional amount of $75,000. See JTH Tax,
Inc. v. Frashier, 624 F.3d 635, 638 (4th Cir. 2010) (“[T]he ‘sum claimed by the plaintiff
controls’ the amount in controversy determination.” (quoting St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v.
Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288 (1938))); Wiggins v. N. Am. Equitable Life Assurance Co., 644
F.2d 1014, 1017 (4th Cir. 1981) (“Ordinarily the jurisdictional amount is determined by the
amount of the plaintiff’s original claim, provided that the claim is made in good faith.”). The
Court stated that “[i]f Plaintiff did not intend to pursue damages adequate to satisfy the
jurisdictional threshold at the time of filing and if Plaintiff stipulates to such limitation having a
binding effect, the Court will remand this matter to state court.”
On November 8, 2017, the Plaintiff, by and with the consent of Defendant, stipulated
“that the amount in controversy in this matter was, at the time of filing this suit in the Court of
Common Pleas for Florence County, South Carolina, limited to no more than Seventy Four
Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-Nine Dollars ($74,999.00).” [Doc. # 9.] The parties further
stipulated “if at any time during discovery the evidence gives rise to the Plaintiff asserting that
Plaintiff’s damages may exceed the sum of Seventy-five Thousand and 00/100 ($75,000.00)
Dollars, this case can be removed back to the United States District Court, District of South
Carolina, Florence Division..” Id.
Based on the foregoing, this case is hereby REMANDED to the South Carolina Court of
Common Pleas for Florence County, South Carolina. A certified copy of this Order of Remand
shall be mailed by the Clerk of this Court to the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, Florence
County, South Carolina.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
November 20, 2017
Florence, South Carolina
s/ R. Bryan Harwell
R. Bryan Harwell
United States District Judge
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