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Musser v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

April 12, 2017

TAVIA MUSSER, Plaintiff,
v.
WALMART STORES EAST, L.P., Defedant.

          Edwin G. Torres, U.S. Magistrate Judge

          ORDER DENYEVG PLAEYITFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

          MARCIA G. COOKE United States District Judge

         This case arises from injuries Plaintiff Tavia Musser sustained from an allegedly dangerous condition on Defendant Walmart Stores East, L.P.'s ("Walmart") premises. Walmart removed this case from state court, asserting federal diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Musser challenges Walmart's removal, arguing that the amount in controversy is less than the $75, 000 statutory requirement.

         Pending is Musser's Motion to Remand to State Court ("Motion"). (ECF No. 8). Walmart has filed its Response in Opposition to Musser's Motion (ECF No. 9), and Musser submitted her Reply (ECF No. 10). The Motion is therefore fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         I have reviewed the parties' arguments, the record, and the relevant legal authorities. For the reasons that follow, I deny Musser's Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Musser is a citizen of the State of Florida. (ECF No. 1-6 ¶ 2). Walmart, a limited partnership registered in the state of Delaware, is a wholly-owned subsidiary if Walmart Stores, Inc., a Delaware corporation that maintains its principal place of business in Arkansas.[1] (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 8, 10).

         On or about September 11, 2014, Musser slipped on a transitory substance on Walmart's premises (the "Store"). (ECF No. 8 ¶ 1). Musser alleges that Walmart breached the duty of care it owed to her as an invitee of the Store, and that the breach resulted in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money, and aggravation of a previously existing condition. (ECF No. 1-6).

         On May 3, 2016, Musser sent a demand letter (“Demand Letter”) to Walmart stating her medical expenses to date as a result of the incident. (ECF No. 8-1 at 2-3). The Demand Letter further indicated that Musser had consented to surgery on her back, which she estimated would cost $100, 000. (Id.). She proposed a settlement of $325, 000. (Id.).

         On June 22, 2016, Musser filed her Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial (“Complaint”) in Florida state court. (ECF No. 1-3 at 34). On August 3, 2016, Musser filed her Amended Complaint alleging one count of negligence against Walmart. (ECF No. 1-6).

         On August 18, 2016, Musser's counsel sent Walmart's counsel updated incident-related medical bills totaling more than $30, 000, and again sent the Demand Letter. (ECF Nos. 8-1, 8-2). Walmart then removed the action to federal court on September 19, 2016. (ECF No. 1). On September 28, 2016, after Walmart filed its Notice of Removal, Musser offered to settle the claim for $74, 999.99. (ECF No. 8-5). Shortly thereafter, on October 14, 2016, she filed her Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 8).

         STANDARDOFREVIEW

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Federal jurisdiction exists only when a controversy involves either a question of federal law or diversity of citizenship between the parties. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-32. Removal statutes are strictly construed. Syngenta Crop Prot. Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002). Courts should remand all cases where subject matter jurisdiction is in doubt. Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 411 (11th Cir.1999).

         The parties here do not contend that their controversy involves a question of federal law. Accordingly, this Court has jurisdiction over the instant case only if diversity jurisdiction exists. Diversity jurisdiction exists when the suit is between citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332. There is no dispute in this case that the parties are of ...


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