United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
POLSTER CHAPPELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Jennifer Sparks
and Shane Sparks' Opposition to Removal (Doc. 13), to
which Defendant Target Corporation has filed a response (Doc.
17). This matter is ripe for review.
a slip and fall case. While shopping at a Target store,
Jennifer Sparks fell on her knee resulting in a patella
fracture. (Doc. 2 at ¶ 6; Doc. 17 at 2). She underwent
two outpatient surgeries and attended physical therapy. (Doc.
13 at 4; Doc. 17 at 2-3, 5). She allegedly walks with a limp,
is in pain, and is limited in her daily activities. (Doc.
13-3 at 1-3).
of the accident, Plaintiffs sued Target in state court on
October 4, 2016. (Doc. 2). They claimed damages in excess of
$15, 000. Over the next two months, Target sent Plaintiffs
interrogatories, a request for production, and a request for
admissions. (Doc. 17-1). Plaintiffs provided non-verified
responses to Target's interrogatories and requests for
production on February 22, 2017. (Doc. 17 at ¶¶
4-6). Although Ms. Sparks was deposed a week later, she did
not respond to the request for admissions until June 16,
2017, which was only after Target moved to compel. (Doc. 17
at ¶¶ 8, 13; Doc. 17-8; Doc. 13-3). In the request
for admissions, Plaintiffs denied that the amount in
controversy did not exceed $75, 000, exclusive of interest
and costs. (Doc. 17-11 at ¶¶ 1-2). Target
thereafter removed the case to this Court, citing diversity
jurisdiction as the basis for subject matter jurisdiction.
(Doc. 1). Plaintiffs now oppose the removal. (Doc. 13).
defendant may remove a civil case from state to federal court
if the federal court has original jurisdiction. See
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). To have original jurisdiction the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest
and costs, and there must be complete diversity of
citizenship between the parties. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). The party seeking removal bears the burden of
establishing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.
See Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d
1184, 1207 (11th Cir. 2007).
removing party must also satisfy the removal statute's
procedural requirements. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1), a
defendant may remove a civil action by filing a notice of
removal within thirty days of receipt of the initial
pleading. If the case is not removable based on the initial
pleading, the defendant may file a notice of removal within
thirty days of receipt “of a copy of an amended
pleading, motion, order, or other paper from which it may
first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has
become removable.” 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(3). Pertinent
here, the other paper “must contain an unambiguous
statement that clearly establishes federal
jurisdiction.” Lowery, 483 F.3d at 1213 n.63
the parties do not dispute this case qualifies for removal.
Instead, they square off as to when the thirty-day countdown
for removal started. The answer to which will render
Target's removal timely or untimely. According to Target,
Plaintiffs' admission in June 2017 that their damages
exceed $75, 000 triggered the countdown because that is when
it first knew, by a preponderance of the evidence, this case
was removable. Plaintiffs disagree. They argue February 2017
is the operative month. They assert Target knew - or should
have known - removal was possible then because of their
interrogatory answers, document production, and Sparks'
February 2017, Target knew only that Sparks' medical
bills totaled $17, 384.46 from Plaintiffs' interrogatory
responses. (Doc. 17 at ¶ 10; Doc. 17-2 at 4-5). This is
because Plaintiffs provided no medical records, bills, or
expenses incurred as the company requested. Nor did they
provide any payments from collateral sources. And Sparks'
testimony of a future surgery - “if and when” she
decided to pursue it - fared no better in triggering the
thirty-day countdown. (Doc. 13-3 at 1). At bottom, Target did
not have sufficient evidence to show that the amount in
controversy exceeded the $75, 000 jurisdictional minimum
until Plaintiffs admitted so in June 2017. And only then did
Target have “a reasonable basis to conclude that the
amount in controversy requirement had been met.”
Wallace v. Home Depot USA, Inc., No. 8:15-cv-474,
2015 WL 1809265, at *2-3 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 20, 2015) (denying a
motion to remand because, in part, a medical report given to
the defendant prior to the suit did not alone establish the
amount in controversy). The Court finds that Target has
timely removed this case.
it is now
Jennifer Sparks and Shane Sparks' Opposition to Removal
(Doc. 13) is DENIED.