United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
THOMAS H. BROOKS, JR., Plaintiff,
SEARS, ROEBUCK AND CO., Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. IRICK UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court for consideration following
Defendant's response (Doc. 10) to the Court's Order
to Show Cause (Doc. 7). On December 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed
a complaint in state court alleging that he was injured when
he slipped and fell on a slippery substance in
Defendant's store. Doc. 2. Plaintiff did not include any
factual allegations regarding the nature of his alleged
injury. Id. Plaintiff pled that he is a resident of
Orange County, Florida. Id.
April 10, 2018, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal alleging
that this Court has jurisdiction over the parties pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. Citing to the Complaint,
Defendant alleged that “Plaintiff is a resident of
Florida.” Id. at 2. Defendant also alleged
that the amount-in-controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.
Id. at 3. To support its allegation, Defendant
attached Plaintiff's proposal for settlement, wherein
Plaintiff requested $135, 000.00 in exchange for Plaintiff
agreeing to voluntarily dismiss the action with prejudice.
Doc. 1-2. Plaintiff's proposal for settlement did not
include any medical records, bills, or descriptions of
Plaintiff's injuries or damages. Id. Defendant
did not provide the Court with any additional information
regarding the amount-in-controversy or the nature of
Plaintiff's injuries. Id.
7, 2018, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause (OTSC) why
this case should not be remanded to state court for lack of
federal subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 7.
17, 2018, Defendant filed a response to the Court's OTSC
(the Response). Doc. 10. In doing so, Defendant chose not to
provide the Court with any additional evidence to support the
existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction.
Id. Instead, Defendant simply argued that its Notice
of Removal is sufficient to establish federal subject matter
argument is unavailing. Further, in its OTSC, the Court
identified in detail the jurisdictional defects at issue and
provided Defendant an opportunity to cure those defects.
See, e.g., Travaglio v. Am. Expresss Co.,
735 F.3d 1266, 1270 (11th Cir. 2013) (allowing defective
allegations regarding citizenship to be cured through record
evidence). The Court takes Defendant's decision not to
attempt to cure the jurisdictional defects through record
evidence as a tacit concession that it has no further
information that may satisfy this Court's jurisdictional
requirements. Thus, the undersigned finds that this case
should be remanded to state court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW.
Court is a court of limited jurisdiction and, as such,
“is obligated to inquire into subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be
lacking.” Univ. of S. Ala. V. Am. Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d 405, 409-10 (11th Cir. 1999); see also Hernandez
v. U.S. Atty. Gen., 513 F.3d 1336, 1339 (11th Cir. 2008)
(per curiam) (“As a preliminary matter, we must inquire
into subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever
it may be lacking.”). “A defendant seeking to
remove a case bears the burden of proving that the federal
district court has original jurisdiction.” Alilin
v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No.
6:14-cv-1183-Orl-41DAB, 2014 WL 7734262, at *2 (M.D. Fla.
Jan. 30, 2014) (citing Williams v. Best Buy Co.,
Inc., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001)). In cases
where the damages are unspecified, “the removing party
bears the burden of establishing the jurisdictional amount by
a preponderance of the evidence.” Lowery v. Ala.
Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1208 (11th Cir. 2007).
Statutes governing removal are strictly construed and, thus,
“all doubts about jurisdiction should be resolved in
favor of remand to state court.” Univ. of S.
Ala., 168 F.3d at 411.
federal court has diversity jurisdiction over civil actions
where there is complete diversity of citizenship among the
opposing parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000.00, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. §
court's analysis of the amount-in-controversy requirement
focuses on how much is in controversy at the time of removal,
not later.” Pretka v. Kolter City Plaza II,
Inc., 608 F.3d 744, 751 (11th Cir. 2010) (citations
omitted); see also S. Fla. Wellness, Inc. v. Allstate
Ins. Co., 745 F.3d 1312, 1315 (11th Cir. 2014)
(“What counts is the amount in controversy at the time
of removal.”); Adventure Outdoors, 552 F.3d at
1294-95. “Where . . . the plaintiff has not pled a
specific amount of damages, the removing defendant must prove
by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in
controversy exceeds the jurisdictional requirement.”
Williams, 269 F.3d at 1319 (citations omitted).
However, “a removing defendant is not required to prove
the amount in controversy beyond all doubt or to banish all
uncertainty about it.” Pretka, 608 F.3d at 754
(citations omitted). Rather, a court may consider the
evidence combined with reasonable deductions, reasonable
inferences, and other reasonable extrapolations. See
id.; see also S. Fla. Wellness, 745 F.3d at
determining whether a removing defendant has carried its
burden of proving that the amount-in-controversy satisfied
the jurisdictional requirement at the time of removal, a
court may consider post-removal evidence. Williams,
269 F.3d at 1319. This post-removal evidence may include a
plaintiff's settlement offer and attached medical
records. Alilin, 2014 WL 7734262, at *2 (citing
Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1097 (11th
Cir. 1994)). But although medical records attached to a
settlement offer are entitled to great weight, a
plaintiff's settlement offer itself is “not
conclusive proof of the amount in controversy as these
offers, particularly pre-suit offers, typically
‘reflect puffing and posturing' on the part of the
plaintiff.” Alilin, 2014 WL 7734262 at *2
(citations omitted); see also Jackson v. Select Portfolio
Servicing, Inc., 651 F.Supp.2d 1279, 1281, 1283 (S.D.
Ala. 2009) (involving a post-suit settlement offer and
stating that whether or not a settlement offer “counts
for something” depends on the circumstances). With that
said, “offers that provide specific information to
support the plaintiff's claim for damages suggest the
plaintiff is offering a reasonable assessment of the value of
his claim and are entitled to more weight.”
Id. (citation omitted).
Plaintiff did not plead a specific amount of damages.
See Doc. 2. Thus, it was Defendant's burden to
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the
amount-in-controversy exceeds the jurisdictional requirement.
Williams, 269 F.3d at 1319 (citations omitted).
Defendant failed to do so. Although Plaintiff's proposal
for settlement seeks $135, 000.00 to settle this case, the
proposal for settlement does not provide any specific
information to suggest that $135, 000.00 is a reasonable
assessment of Plaintiff's claim. Doc. 1-2. And Defendant
did not provide the Court with any specific information -
such as the amount of Plaintiff's medical bills or the
nature and severity of Plaintiff's injuries - that the
Court could use to reasonably infer that the
amount-in-controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount. ...