United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
DENA SINGLETON and JADARRIUS D. BUCHANANA, Plaintiffs,
LIBERTY COUNTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY and SAMUEL D. GROSHANS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (Doc. 7). For
the following reasons, the Court DENIES the
motion, and DISMISSES all claims asserted
against Defendant Samuel D. Groshans.
February 8, 2019, Defendant Liberty County Mutual Insurance
Company removed this case, invoking this Court's
diversity jurisdiction, and arguing that Samuel D. Groshans,
a Texas resident, was improperly joined to defeat diversity.
Doc. 1, Notice of Removal, ¶ 14; Id., Ex. A-1
(Pl.'s Pet.), ¶¶ 2, 3. After reviewing the
pleadings, the Court noticed deficiencies in Liberty's
description of the parties' citizenships, and ordered
Liberty to amend its notice of removal so that the Court
could be assured of its subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 5,
Order, 1-2. At the same time, the Court granted Plaintiffs
additional time to move to remand the case, but specifically
stated that any motion to remand must also address
Liberty's improper-joinder argument, or the Court would
treat it as waived. Doc. 5, Order, 2-3 (“If Plaintiffs
do not timely file a motion to remand and challenge the
improper joinder argument, the Court will consider Plaintiffs
to concede the point, Groshans will be dismissed, and the
case will proceed toward a Scheduling Order.”).
has since cured the defects in alleging the citizenship of
the parties. See Doc. 6. Plaintiffs filed their
motion to remand (Doc. 7) on April 22, 2019.They made no
mention of the improper-joinder argument, and instead argue
that diversity jurisdiction does not exist because they will
amend their complaint to be below the amount-in-controversy
threshold. See generally, Doc. 7, Mot. Liberty
responded on April 29, 2019. Doc. 8. And as the time for
filing a reply brief has now passed, the Court now considers
initial matter, the Court notes that by not addressing the
improper-joinder argument Liberty makes against Groshans,
Plaintiffs concede that he is not a proper party to this case
and should be dismissed. Thus, this case involves completely
diverse parties-Plaintiffs are from Texas, and Liberty is a
citizen of Massachusetts. Doc. 6, Am. Notice of Removal,
the amount in controversy requirement, although post-removal
events that reduce the amount in controversy can divest the
court of diversity jurisdiction in certain circumstances,
that is not the case here. “[I]f it is facially
apparent from the petition that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000 at the time of removal, post-removal
affidavits, stipulations, and amendments reducing the amount
do not deprive the district court of jurisdiction.”
Gebbia v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 233 F.3d 880, 883
(5th Cir. 2000).
is facially apparent from Plaintiffs' state-court
petition, which was operative at the time of removal, that
the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000. In that
petition, Plaintiffs stated that they seek monetary relief
over $200, 000 but not more than $1, 000, 000. Doc. 1, Ex. A-1
(Orig. Pet.), ¶ 62. There is no evidence this was pled
in bad faith, given the relief requested: Plaintiffs state
that the limits on the policy under which they seek recovery
are $30, 000.00 per person and $60, 000.00 per accident. Doc.
7, Mot., 2. In addition to policy limits, they also seek:
treble damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
and Texas Insurance Code; exemplary damages; damages for
mental anguish, medical care, lost earnings capacity,
physical impairment and disfigurement; pre- and post-judgment
interest; reasonable attorney's fees; and costs of court.
Doc. 1, Ex. A-1 (Orig. Pet.), ¶¶ 28, 46, 60.
Considering the policy limits, request for treble damages,
attorney's fees, interest, and the fact that Plaintiffs
themselves pled to recover in excess of $ 200, 000, the Court
finds that Liberty has met its burden to show that the amount
in controversy is over $75, 000. See Zapata v. Allstate
Indem. Co., 2008 WL 11416943, at *4 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 15,
2008) (including these sorts of damages in calculating amount
in controversy in a similar case). Plaintiffs' proposed
post-removal amendment does not divest the Court of
jurisdiction. See Ford v. United Parcel Serv., Inc.,
2014 WL 4105965, at *3 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 21, 2014) (rejecting
similar attempts by a plaintiff to avoid diversity
the Court finds that it has diversity jurisdiction over these
claims, and the Court hereby DENIES
Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (Doc. 7) and
DISMISSES all of Plaintiffs' claims
against Defendant Samuel D. Groshans.
Liberty purports to cite the original
petition as requesting recovery of no more than $100, 000.
Doc. 6, Am. Notice of Removal, ¶ 11. The Court fails to
find such a statement in the petition, and Plaintiffs admit
that they ...