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Shaffer v. Green Earth Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

June 19, 2017

RONALD SHAFFER, Plaintiff,
v.
GREEN EARTH TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this date, the Court considered Plaintiff Ronald Shaffer's Motion to Remand (Docket no. 8) and Defendant Green Earth Technologies, Inc.'s Motion to Transfer Venue (Docket no. 3). After careful consideration, the Court DENIES both motions.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his initial petition on May 6, 2016 in the 166th Judicial District Court of Bexar County, Texas. Docket no. 1-1 at 2. The subject of Plaintiff's lawsuit is an Employment Agreement that allegedly governed Plaintiff's employment relationship with and compensation from Defendant. Docket no. 1-1 at 3-4. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to compensate him in accordance with the Agreement and subsequent representations made by Defendant. Id. at 4.

         Plaintiff attached the Agreement to his initial state court petition as an exhibit. Docket no. 1-1 at 10-11. For present purposes, the most relevant portion of the agreement is a paragraph which reads:

This is the complete agreement and cannot be modified unless reduced to writing and signed by you and the Company. In the event of [sic] a dispute should arise between the Company and you this Offer Letter will be interpreted under the laws of the state of Connecticut in the county of Fairfield.

Id. at 11 (emphasis added).

         Plaintiff obtained a default judgment against Defendant in state court on September 20, 2016. Docket no. 1-2 at 42-43. On January 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed an abstract of judgment in Harris County to enforce this default judgment. Docket no. 8-3. On January 30, Plaintiff filed an application for turnover relief in Bexar County. Docket no. 8-4.

         On February 8, 2017, Defendant sought relief from Plaintiff's default judgment by filing a petition for bill of review in a Bexar County state court. Docket no. 1-2 at 2-24. On April 11, 2017, the parties filed a joint motion for entry of agreed judgment setting aside the default judgment. Docket no. 1-4 at 2-6. On April 18, 2017, the state court entered the parties' agreed judgment and set aside the default judgment. Docket no. 1-5 at 2-5. The agreed judgment stated in part:

[Plaintiff's] live pleading shall be Plaintiff's Original Petition, Jury Demand, and Request for Disclosure (“Original Petition”), filed in the Original Proceeding, on May 6 2016 . . . [Defendant] shall have 30 days from the entry of this Agreed Judgment to file its initial responsive pleading to [Plaintiff's] Original Petition. [Plaintiff] shall retain his claims and rights to the same extent as they existed at the time of the filing of his Original Petition in the Original Proceeding; and [Defendant] shall retain any and all rights, objections, challenges, defenses, affirmative defenses, and counterclaims related to the Original Petition and [Plaintiff's] claims asserted therein.

Id. at 3-4.

         On May 10, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Docket no. 1. Defendant is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey, Plaintiff is an individual Texas citizen, and Plaintiff's original petition seeks in excess of $200, 000 in damages. Docket no. 1 at 3. Plaintiff does not challenge these substantive requirements of subject matter jurisdiction. See Docket no. 8.

         DISCUSSION

         There are currently two pending motions-Defendant's motion to transfer filed on May 18, 2017 (Docket no. 3) and Plaintiff's Motion to Remand filed on May 22 (Docket no. 8). Even though the motion to transfer was filed first, the Court will take up these motions ...


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