Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Truepoint Communications LLC v. Unique Beverage Company, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

November 6, 2019

TRUEPOINT COMMUNICATIONS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIQUE BEVERAGE COMPANY, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Sam A. Lindsay United States District Judge

         Before the court are Plaintiff TruePoint Communications, LLC's (“TruePoint” or “Plaintiff”) Motion for Entry of Default Judgment (Doc. 15), filed March 15, 2019; and Defendant Unique Beverage Company, LLC's (“Unique” or “Defendant”) Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default (Doc. 22), filed March 27, 2019. The court determines that it cannot rule on these motions because subject matter jurisdiction over this action is lacking. Defendant has not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. For the reasons herein set forth, the court remands this action to the 116th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas.

         I. Background

         On December 21, 2018, Unique removed this action to federal court. Unique contends that complete diversity of citizenship exists between the parties and that the amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds $75, 000. Initially, Unique did not set forth the necessary allegations to establish its citizenship and the citizenship of TruePoint. To ensure that jurisdiction existed to entertain this action, on February 15, 2019, the court ordered Unique to file an amended Notice of Removal addressing the pleading deficiencies identified by the court by March 15, 2019. Unique complied, and filed Defendant Unique's Beverage Company, LLC's Amended Notice of Removal (Doc. 8) on February 27, 2019. The Amended Notice sufficiently set forth allegations establishing that the parties are completely diverse. Also, Unique submitted “evidence” that it contends establishes that the amount-in-controversy requirement has been met. For the reasons that follow, the court disagrees.

         II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         A federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over civil cases “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, ” and over civil cases in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and in which diversity of citizenship exists between the parties. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and must have statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate a claim. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted); Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). Absent jurisdiction conferred by statute or the Constitution, they lack the power to adjudicate claims and must dismiss an action if subject matter jurisdiction is lacking. Id.; Stockman v. Federal Election Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing Veldhoen v. United States Coast Guard, 35 F.3d 222, 225 (5th Cir. 1994)). A federal court must presume that an action lies outside its limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing that the court has subject matter jurisdiction to entertain an action rests with the party asserting jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377 (citations omitted). “[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction cannot be created by waiver or consent.” Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 919 (5th Cir. 2001).

         Federal courts may also exercise subject matter jurisdiction over a civil action removed from a state court. Unless Congress provides otherwise, a “civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         A federal court has an independent duty, at any level of the proceedings, to determine whether it properly has subject matter jurisdiction over a case. Ruhgras AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999) (“[S]ubject-matter delineations must be policed by the courts on their own initiative even at the highest level.”); McDonal v. Abbott Labs., 408 F.3d 177, 182 n.5 (5th Cir. 2005) (A “federal court may raise subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte.”) (citation omitted).

         Diversity of citizenship exists between the parties only if each plaintiff has a different citizenship from each defendant. Getty Oil Corp. v. Insurance Co. of North America, 841 F.2d 1254, 1258 (5th Cir. 1988). Otherwise stated, 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires complete diversity of citizenship; that is, a district court cannot exercise jurisdiction if any plaintiff shares the same citizenship as any defendant. See Corfield v. Dallas Glen Hills LP, 355 F.3d 853, 857 (5th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). Unique has met its burden and established that the parties are completely diverse, as Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of different states. Unique, however has not met the second prong, that is, whether the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of $75, 000.

         For diversity purposes, the amount in controversy normally is determined by the amount sought on the face of the plaintiff's pleadings, so long as the plaintiff's claim is made in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2); Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553 (2014) (citation omitted); St. Paul Reinsurance Co. v. Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1253 (5th Cir. 1998); De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th Cir. 1995). Removal is thus proper if it is “facially apparent” from the complaint that the claim or claims asserted exceed the jurisdictional amount. Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335 (5th Cir.), reh'g denied, 70 F.3d 26 (5th Cir. 1995).

         “[A] defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold.” Dart, 135 S.Ct. at 554. Further, “[e]vidence establishing the amount is required by § 1446(c)(2)(B) only when the plaintiff contests, or the court questions, the defendant's allegation.” Id. Although TruePoint does not question the amount-in-controversy requirement, the court does so because it has an independent duty at every stage of the litigation to determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over an action. Marathon Oil, 526 U.S. at 583. Moreover, subject matter jurisdiction cannot be created by consent of the parties. Howery, 243 F.3d at 919.

         In a removed case, when the complaint or pleading does not state a specific amount of damages and the allegations are challenged by the plaintiff or questioned by the court, the defendant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that “the amount in controversy exceeds the [$75, 000] jurisdictional amount.” St. Paul Reinsurance, 134 F.3d at 1253. In such cases, “[t]he preponderance burden forces the defendant to do more than point to a state law that might allow the plaintiff to recover more than what is pled. The defendant must produce evidence that establishes that the actual amount of the claim will exceed [the jurisdictional amount].” De Aguilar, 47 F.3d at 1412 (footnotes omitted). The test to be used by the district court is “whether it is more likely than not that the amount of the claim will exceed [the jurisdictional amount].” St. Paul Reinsurance, 134 F.3d at 1253 n.13. As the Fifth Circuit has stated, “[t]he district court must first examine the complaint to determine whether it is ‘facially apparent' that the claims exceed the jurisdictional amount. If it is not thus apparent, the court may rely on ‘summary judgment-type' evidence to ascertain the amount in controversy.” Id. at 1253. If a defendant fails to establish the requisite jurisdictional amount, the court must remand the case to state court. If a defendant establishes that the jurisdictional amount has been met, remand is appropriate only if a plaintiff can establish “to a legal certainty” that his recovery will not exceed the jurisdictional threshold. In re 1994 Exxon Chemical Fire, 558 F.3d 378, 387-88 (5th Cir. 2009).

         Any doubts as to the propriety of the removal should be construed strictly in favor of remand. Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002). “The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction in federal court rests on the party seeking to invoke it.” St. Paul Reinsurance, 134 F.3d at 1253 (footnote omitted). Accordingly, if a case is removed to federal court, the defendant has the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction; if a case is initially filed in federal court, the burden rests with the plaintiff to establish that the case “arises under” federal law, or that diversity exists and that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold.

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.