United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ORDER REMANDING FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER
WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Cause comes before the Court sua sponte. A review of
the record reveals that Jennifer McClean filed her Complaint
against Ross Scopelliti-and others not party to this case-in
state court in 2012. Dkt. 1-1. The action was removed to this
Court by Mr. Scopelliti on October 28, 2019. Dkt. 1. Upon
consideration of all relevant filings and case law, the Court
hereby remands this case to the Circuit Court for the
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County,
Florida. There is no federal subject matter jurisdiction.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction-they possess only
that power authorized by the Constitution and by statute.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted). A civil case originally
filed in state court may be removed to federal court by a
defendant so long as the case could have originally been
brought in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). Federal district courts have original jurisdiction
over civil actions brought in diversity, in which the matter
in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs, and is between citizens of
different States. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Federal courts
have “an independent obligation” in each case
“to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any
party.” Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S.
500, 501 (2006).
statutes are construed narrowly with all uncertainties
resolved in favor of remand. Syngenta Crop Prot., Inc. v.
Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002). Further, under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(c), a case removed from state court must be
remanded if it appears that it was inappropriately removed.
The removing party must prove federal jurisdiction exists.
Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th
Scopelliti, a Florida resident, purports to remove this case
based on diversity jurisdiction. But neither the underlying
case nor Mr. Scopelliti's Notice of Removal provide a
basis for removal under diversity. See Dkt. 1.
Where, as here, the state-court plaintiff does not plead a
specific amount of damages, the removing defendant must show
that it is more likely than not that the amount in
controversy exceeds the $75, 000 requirement. Kirkland v.
Midland Mortg. Co., 243 F.3d 1277, 1281 n.5 (11th Cir.
2001). Mr. Scopelliti cannot.
state court case Ms. McClean does not plead a specific amount
of damages against Mr. Scopelliti. See Dkt. 1-1.
Generally, it appears the state court case was a foreclosure
action by Ms. McClean against Terrence Nero over some real
property where Mr. Scopelliti is the tenant. Id.
Defendant Nero does not join this removal nor is his consent
filed. The state court complaint alleges an amount only
regarding the mortgage price of the property. Id. It
does not allege a specific amount of damages against Mr.
Scopelliti as a tenant. Id. Thus, the burden is on
the tenant Mr. Scopelliti to show the amount in controversy
exceeds the jurisdictional amount. Kirkland, 243
F.3d at 1281 n.5.
Scopelliti alleges that “[i]n Case Number 8:19CV1626
the Amount in Controversy exceeds $77 000[.] Through the
Joinder of the State Court Claim in 12ca010683 with the
Claims in 8:19cv1626 . . . [t]he amount easily exceeds the
Jurisdictional Amount.” Dkt. 1 at 3-4. “Case
Number 8:19CV1626” references a separate case filed by
Mr. Scopelliti in federal court regarding these same facts.
However, it is just that: a separate case.
claims for the purposes of amount in controversy requirements
is permitted “in cases in which a single plaintiff
seeks to aggregate two or more of his own claims against a
single defendant.” Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S.
332, 335 (1969). Section 1332 allows for diversity
jurisdiction in “civil actions where the
matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) (emphasis added).
Claims may only be aggregated by a single plaintiff against a
single defendant in a single case. Mr. Scopelliti
impermissibly attempts to aggregate claims in separate cases.
In any event, Mr. Scopelliti's separate federal case has
since been dismissed. See Scopelliti v. Harris,
8:19-cv-01626-WFJ-CPT, Dkt. 45 (December 19, 2019). As such,
Mr. Scopelliti has not met his burden to prove that the
amount in controversy in this case exceeds $75, 000.
ordered this case is remanded sua sponte to the
Circuit Court for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for
Hillsborough County, Florida. The Clerk is directed to mail a
certified copy of this Order to the Clerk of the Circuit
Court for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit and to close the