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Rodriguez v. Echosphere, L.L.C.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division

March 23, 2018

RODRIGO EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
ECHOSPHERE, L.L.C., Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. GUADERRAMA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Rodrigo Eduardo Rodriguez's "Motion to Remand" ("Motion") (ECF No. 5) filed on February 28, 2018. Therein, Plaintiff requests that the Court remand this matter back to the 34th Judicial District Court of El Paso County, Texas. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 4, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the 34th Judicial District Court of El Paso County, Texas, asserting age and disability discrimination and retaliation claims under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code. Notice Removal at 1-2, ECF No. 1. Accompanying Plaintiffs complaint was a signed stipulation limiting his damages to $74, 999, exclusive of interest and costs. Notice Removal, Ex. 1 at 7. Plaintiffs stipulation states:

By this stipulation, I swear and stipulate that the amount of controversy in this case in a court of law is no more than $74, 999.00, plus interest and costs if no members of Defendant are citizens of the same State as Plaintiff. I verify and stipulate that the amount I seek to recover in this case in a court of law is no more than $74, 999.00, plus interest and costs.
If no members of Defendant are citizens of the same State as Plaintiff, I agree to waive and hereby do waive any recovery in this case, whether it be for actual damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, or any other possible category of recovery, in any amount totaling in excess of $74, 999.00, plus interest and costs in a court of law.
If no members of Defendant are citizens of the same State as Plaintiff and if a judgment is entered in this case in an amount in excess of $74, 999.00, plus interest and costs, I will not execute on the amount exceeding that amount. I waive any right to execute on the portion of any judgment in this case which exceeds $74, 999.00, plus interest and costs in a court of law.
By the phrase "interest and costs, " as those terms are used herein, I intend those terms to have the same meaning as they have under the federal removal statute, which I understand is 28 U.S.C. section 1332.
I intend for this stipulation to be binding on me and my heirs, successors, and assigns, and anyone acting on my behalf.
If no members of Defendant are citizens of the same State as Plaintiff, I agree that this stipulation is irrevocable, and forever bars any recovery in this case in excess of $74, 999.00, plus interest and costs in a court of law. Nothing herein applies if this case is in binding arbitration.
Id.

         II. STANDARD

         A defendant may remove a civil action filed in a state court to a federal district court if the latter court has subject matter jurisdiction over the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Where, as here, removal is premised upon diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the removing party bears the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, both that the parties are diverse and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. New Orleans & Gulf Coast Ry. Co. v. Barrois, 533 F.3d 321, 327 (5th Cir. 2008); Garcia v. Koch Oil Co. of Texas Inc., 351 F.3d 636, 638 (5th Cir. 2003). However, once the case is removed, the district court must remand "[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         Further, "[a]ny ambiguities are construed against removal because the removal statute should be strictly construed in favor of remand." Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins.,276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002). This is so because, "[a]s 'the effect of removal is to deprive the state court of an action properly before it, removal raises significant federalism concerns.'" Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indent. Co.,491 F.3d 278, 281 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sch. Dist.,44 F.3d 362, 365-66 (5th Cir. 1995)). Federal courts "must not trespass upon the ...


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