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Presley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

November 27, 2013

DAVID RAY PRESLEY AND MARGARITA RIVERA PRESLEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., § Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER

JOHN McBRYDE, District Judge.

The court has not been persuaded that it has subject matter jurisdiction over the above-captioned action. Therefore, the court is ordering the action remanded to the state court from which it was removed.

I.

Background

Plaintiffs, David Ray Presley and Margarita Rivera Presley, initiated this action by filing their original petition in the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, 96th Judicial District, naming as defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo"). Wells Fargo removed the action, alleging that this court has subject matter jurisdiction by reason of diversity of citizenship, and that the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, as contemplated by 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[1]

The allegations in the state court pleadings pertain to plaintiffs' property on Meadow Glen Drive in Arlington, Texas. Plaintiffs claim that their home was sold at a foreclosure sale[2] and that plaintiffs were not given 20-days' notice to cure or a 21-day notice of acceleration prior to the sale. Plaintiffs assert a claim against Wells Fargo for breach of contract and seek unspecified damages, attorney's fees, and a declaratory judgment that (1) Wells Fargo wrongfully foreclosed on plaintiffs' property and (2) the property be "reconveyed" to plaintiffs.

II.

Basic Principles

The court starts with a statement of basic principles announced by the Fifth Circuit:

"The removing party bears the burden of showing that federal subject matter jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper." Manquno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. , 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002). "Moreover, because the effect of removal is to deprive the state court of an action properly before it, removal raises significant federalism concerns, which mandate strict construction of the removal statute."[3] Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sch. Dist. , 44 F.3d 362, 365-66 (5th Cir. 1995). Any doubts about whether removal jurisdiction is proper must therefore be resolved against the exercise of federal jurisdiction. Acuna v. Brown & Root Inc. , 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000).

To determine the amount in controversy, the court ordinarily looks to the plaintiff's state court petition. Manguno, 276 F.3d at 723. If it is not facially apparent from the petition that the amount in controversy exceeds the required amount, the removing party must set forth summary judgment-type evidence, either in the notice of removal or in an affidavit, showing that the amount in controversy is, more likely than not, greater than $75, 000. Id .; Allen v. R H Oil & Gas Co. , 63 F.3d 1326, 1335 (5th Cir. 1995). The amount in controversy is measured from the perspective of the plaintiff. See Garcia v. Koch Oil Co. of Texas Inc. , 351 F.3d 636, 640 n.4 (5th Cir. 2003).

III.

The True Nature of Plaintiffs' Claims

The petition by which plaintiffs initiated this action in the state court does not specify a dollar amount of recovery sought, nor does it define in any way the value of the right sought to be protected or the extent of the injury sought to be prevented. As the court has been required to do in other cases of this kind, the court has undertaken an evaluation of the true nature of plaintiffs' claims. Having done so, and having considered the authorities and arguments cited by Wells Fargo ...


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