United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MCBRYDE DISTRICT JUDGE.
for consideration the joint motion of plaintiffs, Cquentia
Series, LLC ("Cquentia"), and Diagnostic Lab Direct
Series, LLC ("DLD"), to remand. The court, having
considered the motion, the response of defendants, American
Healthway, LLC, and TAC Diagnostics, LLC, the reply, the
record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion
should be granted.
7, 2016, plaintiffs filed their original petition in the
96th Judicial District Court of Tarrant County,
Texas. In it, they allege:
provides billing for ancillary services to hospitals and, in
early 2016, was assisting a client search for a laboratory
services provider. Defendants learned of the search and
contacted Cquentia to discuss a possible arrangement with
DLD. The parties met twice, but did not reach an agreement.
Cquentia and DLD ultimately entered into an agreement between
themselves regarding laboratory services. Defendants demanded
a fee for alleged past services and offers and counter-offers
were exchanged, but no agreement was reached. Ultimately,
defendants demanded a 10% interest in any deal between
plaintiffs or, alternatively, a separate services contract
for a 5% commission on profits (which plaintiffs say is
likely illegal). Doc. 9 at 16-17.
seek declaratory judgment that no enforceable contract exists
between them and defendants. Doc. 9 at 17.
7, 2017, defendants filed their notice of removal, bringing
the action before this court. Doc. 1. Defendants said that
the notice was filed within thirty days of their receipt of a
paper from which it could be ascertained that the case was or
had become removable. Defendants alleged that diversity
jurisdiction exists and also said that the court has federal
question jurisdiction because a federal statute is at issue
in parallel litigation in Florida. Doc. 9 at 3.
Grounds of the Motion
maintain that neither diversity nor federal question
jurisdiction exists. In particular, they say that defendants
have not established that the amount in controversy-exceeds
$75, 000; defendants have not established that the parties
are diverse; and, a federal question is not presented by this
Applicable Legal Principles
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. . . . It
is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited
jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary
rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994)(citations omitted). Removal is proper if the
action is one over which the federal court possesses subject
matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The removing
party bears the burden of showing that federal jurisdiction
exists and that removal was proper. Manguno v. Prudential
Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723
(5th Cir. 2002). The court considers the claims in
the state court petition as they existed at the time of
removal, construing any ambiguities against removal and in
favor of remand. Id. (citing Cavallini v. State
Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 44 F.3d 256, 264
(5th Cir. 1995); Acuna v. Brown &
Root, Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th
a plaintiff is the master of his complaint, Holmes Grp.,
Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S.
826, 831 (2002), and the sum sought by the plaintiff in good
faith is deemed to be the amount in controversy. 2 8 U.S.C.
§ 1446(c)(2). A plaintiff can avoid removal of his case
to federal court by suing for less than the jurisdictional
amount, even though he would justly be entitled to more.
St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S.
283, 294 (1938).
action for declaratory relief, the amount in controversy is
the value of the right to be protected or the extent of the
injury to be prevented. Webb v. Investacorp, Inc.,
89 F.3d 252, 256 (5th Cir. 1996); Leininger v.
Leininqer, 705 F.2d 727, 729 (5th Cir. 1983).
Thus, in a case like this, where plaintiffs claim that a
contract does not exist, the question is how much plaintiffs
stand to gain by avoiding liability under the contract.
See, e. g., Yor-Wic Constr. Co. v. Engineering
Design Techs., Inc., No. 17-0224, 2017 WL 3447808 (W.D.
La. Apr. 19, 2017); Franklin Cty. Mem. Hosp. v. Horizon
Mental Health Mgmt., Inc., Mo. 3:06CV423HTW-LRA, 2007 WL
781843 (S.D.Miss. Mar. 13, 2007). In other words, would
plaintiffs owe defendants more than $75, 000 if defendants
owned 10% of the business undertaken between Cquentia and
DLD? Or, would the amount in ...