United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
BARBER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
this Court are plaintiffs Shannon Parham and Brandy
O'Neill's motions for remand. (Doc. ## 6, 13).
Defendant Brian Osmond has responded in opposition to both
motions. (Doc. ## 7, 14). For the reasons that follow, the
motions are granted in part and denied in part.
vehicle driven by Osmond collided with a vehicle driven by
Parham in which O'Neill was a passenger. As a result,
Parham and O'Neill - both Florida residents - filed two
separate negligence actions against Osmond - a resident of
Canada - in the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit
in and for Pinellas County, Florida. Thereafter, Osmond
timely removed both cases to this Court, asserting the
requirements for diversity jurisdiction had been satisfied.
(Doc. # 1); O'Neill v. Osmond,
8:19-cv-594-T-17JSS (Doc. # 1).
realizing both cases involved nearly identical parties,
facts, and legal issues, the Court sua sponte
consolidated the cases. (Doc. ## 9, 12). Parham and
O'Neill now seek to remand this action back to state
court and demand attorney's fees for Osmond's
improper removal. (Doc. ## 6, 13).
and O'Neill contend this action should be remanded
because Osmond failed to establish the amount-in-controversy
requirement was met when their cases were removed. (Doc. # 6
at 3-4; Doc. # 13 at 3-4). “If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c). Removal statutes are strictly
construed against removal. Shamrock Oil & Gas Co. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108 (1941). The removing defendant
bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction.
Adventure Outdoors, Inc. v. Bloomberg, 552 F.3d
1290, 1294 (11th Cir. 2008). Any doubt as to propriety of
removal should be resolved in favor of remand to state court.
Butler v. Polk, 592 F.2d 1293, 1296 (5th Cir. 1979).
predicates federal jurisdiction on the diversity provisions
of 28 U.S.C. § 1332. “For federal diversity
jurisdiction to attach, all parties must be completely
diverse . . . and the amount in controversy must exceed $75,
000.” Underwriters at Lloyd's London v.
Osting-Schwinn, 613 F.3d 1079, 1085 (11th Cir. 2010).
The parties do not dispute the existence of complete
diversity - Parham and O'Neill are citizens of Florida,
and Osmond is a citizen of Canada. Rather, the parties only
dispute whether the amount-in-controversy requirement is met.
complaint states a specified claim to damages but simply
alleges the damages in these actions exceed $15, 000. (Doc. #
1-1 at ¶ 1; O'Neill, Doc. # 1-1 at ¶
2). If “the jurisdictional amount is not facially
apparent from the complaint, the court should look to the
notice of removal and may require evidence relevant to the
amount in controversy at the time the case was
removed.” Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d
1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001). When “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). “A 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). A removing defendant
should make “specific factual allegations establishing
jurisdiction” and be prepared to “support them
(if challenged by the plaintiff or the court) with
evidence.” Id. at 754.
notices of removal, Osmond contends the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000 for four reasons: (1) the complaints'
allegations of Parham and O'Neill's purported
injuries; (2) Parham and O'Neill's past and future
medical expenses; (3) Parham and O'Neill's pre-suit
demand letters; and (4) jury verdicts in comparable cases.
(Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 10-16; O'Neill, Doc. #
1 at ¶¶ 10-16). Additionally, in his response to
O'Neill's motion, Osmond attempts to further support
his argument by noting that O'Neill refused to stipulate
that the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000 when
the parties discussed the possibility of remand. (Doc. # 14
at 8-9). As explained below, the Court concludes Osmond has
not met his burden of establishing the amount in controversy.
begins by pointing to the complaints' allegations of
Parham and O'Neill's purported injuries to establish
the amount in controversy. Among other things, Parham asserts
Osmond's alleged negligence caused her to “sustain
severe, continuing and permanent injuries . . . and [she] has
in the past and will in the future suffer from the effects of
said injuries . . . incur expenses in the care and treatment
of said injuries . . . [and] experience loss of earnings and
earning capacity.” (Doc. # 1-1 at ¶ 7). Similarly,
O'Neill asserts Osmond's alleged negligence caused
her to sustain “bodily injury, great physical pain and
suffering, disability . . . mental anguish, loss of or
diminution of earnings or earning capacity . . . [and]
medical and related expenses, past and future, incurred in
seeking a cure for her injuries.”
(O'Neill, Doc. # 1-1 at ¶ 8).
the Court recognizes that Parham and O'Neill generally
claim to have suffered as a result of Osmond's alleged
negligence, “mere allegations of severe injuries are
insufficient to establish the amount in controversy.”
Green v. Travelers Indem. Co., No.
3:11-cv-922-J-37TEM, 2011 WL 4947499, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Oct.
18, 2011). Furthermore, the complaints' vague and inexact
allegations of unspecified damages are too imprecise to
include in the amount-in-controversy calculation. Indeed, as
further explained below, the Court has not been provided with
evidence of these broad categories of damages to find that
the amount in controversy has been met. And ascribing any
monetary value to these damages would require pure
speculation by the Court. See Nelson v. Black &
Decker (U.S.), Inc., No. 8:16-cv-869-T-24JSS, 2016 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 116623, at *9 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 30, 2016)
(“[T]he Court will not engage in speculation regarding
the value of [the plaintiff's] claim for pain and
Osmond relies on Parham and O'Neill's past and future
medical expenses to establish the amount in controversy. In
his notices of removal, Osmond originally stated Parham had
incurred approximately $13, 000 in medical expenses and
O'Neill had incurred approximately $44, 887.82 in medical
expenses. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 13; O'Neill, Doc.
# 1 at ¶ 13). Nevertheless, Osmond also acknowledged in
his notices of removal that he did not have the complete
medical records for either Parham or O'Neill. (Doc. # 1
at ¶ 11; O'Neill, Doc. # 1 at ¶ 12).
Now, though, Osmond states that following removal, he
received O'Neill's complete medical records, which
supposedly indicate O'Neill actually had incurred
approximately $80, 352.84 in medical expenses by the time
this case was removed. (Doc. # 14 at 2, 5).
despite citing multiple exhibits and describing Parham and
O'Neill's past medical treatment in his notices of
removal and responses to the pending motions, Osmond fails to
provide the Court with any supporting documentation, such as
medical reports or bills. While Osmond is not required to
prove the amount in controversy beyond all doubt, he must
support his jurisdictional allegations with evidence where
the propriety of removal is challenged by the non-removing
parties. Pretka, 608 F.3d at 754. Because there is
ambiguity regarding the amount of Parham and
O'Neill's past medical expenses, Osmond cannot
satisfy his burden of establishing the amount in controversy
by a preponderance of the evidence without supporting
evidence. See Llanes v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., No.
19-21877-CIV-ALTONAGA/Goodman, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119948,
at *12 (S.D. Fla. July 16, 2019) (holding defendant did not
meet its burden because it failed to provide evidence to
support its assertions of the amount in controversy);