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Tillman v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

February 20, 2018

SUMMER TILLMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and PICH ALLAN MICHAELS, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER [1]

          SHERI POLSTER CHAPPELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on review of Plaintiff Summer Tillman's Motion to Remand (Doc. 8). Defendant Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) submitted a Response in Opposition (Doc. 13), and an Amended Response (Doc. 16). The matter is ripe for review.

         BACKGROUND

         This case stems from an alleged assault and battery in an Uber vehicle. Tillman filed a Complaint in state court alleging Pich Allan Michaels, an Uber driver, touched and kissed her after he provided her for-hire transportation services. (Doc. 2). Uber removed the case to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1). This dispute hinges on the propriety of the Court's subject matter jurisdiction.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). In general, “[i]t is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction.” Id.“[T]he party invoking the court's jurisdiction bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, facts supporting the existence of federal jurisdiction.” McCormick v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d 1254, 1257 (11th Cir. 2002).

         “Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a case filed in state court can be removed to federal court if the district court has original jurisdiction, which exists if there is federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.” Hialeah Anesthesia Specialists, LLC v. Coventry Health Care of Florida, Inc., 258 F.Supp.3d 1323, 1326 (S.D. Fla. 2017). Diversity jurisdiction exists where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, exclusive of interests and costs, and the dispute exists between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a)(1).

         When determining “the citizenship of the parties to determine if the suit meets the requirements of diversity jurisdiction, the court must look to the citizenship of the parties at the time the action was filed and at the time of removal.” Audi Performance & Racing, LLC v. Kasberger, 273 F.Supp.2d 1220, 1225 (M.D. Ala. 2003). “For diversity purposes, citizenship means domicile; mere residence in the State is not sufficient.” Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d 1396, 1399 (5th Cir. 1974).[2] “[D]omicile is established by physical presence in a place in connection with a certain state of mind concerning one's intent to remain there.” Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989). The factors considered in determining domicile include home ownership, driver's license, voting registration, location of family, location of business and where taxes are paid. See Turner v. Pennsylvania Lumbermen's Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. 307-CV-374-J-32TEM, 2007 WL 3104930, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 22, 2007); see also McCormick, 293 F.3d at 1258. No. plaintiffs may be domiciliaries of the same state as any defendant. Travaglio v. Am. Exp. Co., 735 F.3d 1266, 1268 (11th Cir. 2013).

         The procedures for removal are statutory. 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Generally, a party has thirty days from the date of service of the initial pleading or summons to remove a case to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). But a party can remove a case “within 30 days after receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, 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).

         DISCUSSION

         Tillman lodges three arguments for remand. First, Michaels' driver's license does not constitute an “other paper” for removal purposes. Second, Uber's removal was untimely. And third, the documents do not prove complete diversity by a preponderance of the evidence. The Court will address each argument in turn.

         A. Other Paper

         Tillman argues Michaels' license cannot be an “other paper” under Section 1446(b), and cannot support Uber's removal efforts. Tillman asserts his license does not qualify as an “other paper” because it is unauthenticated and four-years-old, and, because it was obtained by Uber before the onset of litigation. These arguments are non-starters. To analyze Tillman's arguments, the Court must first discern whether a driver's license can qualify as an “other paper” under any circumstance. Neither party seriously contests that it can.

         The Eleventh Circuit has found that the first three items capable of supporting removal under Section 1446(b) - “amended pleading[s], motion[s] [or] order[s]” - are “self-explanatory.” Lowery v. Alabama Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1212 n. 62 (11th Cir. 2007). Additionally, it notes that “[w]hat constitutes ‘other paper' . . . has been developed judicially.” Id. Courts within the Eleventh Circuit have interpreted the term broadly. See Lambertson v. Go Fit, LLC, 918 F.Supp.2d 1283, 1285 (S.D. Fla. 2013); see alsoWilson v. Target Corp., 2010 WL 3632794, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 14, 2010). And while the issue of driver's licenses has never been fully ironed out, requests for admissions, settlement offers and other correspondence have all been found to be “other paper.” Lowery, 483 F.3d at 1212 n. 62. These documents all have a natural tendency to shed light on the propriety of diversity jurisdiction by revealing either a party's domicile or the amount in controversy. The Court finds a driver's license to be of similar usefulness ...


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