United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER REMANDING CASE
R. Underhill United States District Judge
General Insurance Co. (“Nationwide”) filed a
complaint against Erald Cela and M&K Equipment Leasing
(“M&K”) in Connecticut Superior Court.
Nationwide asserted that-as subrogee of its insured, Linda
Aidoo-it was entitled to recover damages in the amount that
it had paid Aidoo under an insurance policy for losses
allegedly caused by the defendants' negligence. The
defendants removed the case to this court under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a), arguing that I have supplemental jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because a related suit by
Aidoo against the defendants is currently pending before my
colleague U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden. Because I
conclude that supplemental jurisdiction does not constitute
the “original jurisdiction” required for removal,
I sua sponte remand the case to state court.
Standard of Review
to the federal removal statute, “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant . . . to the district court of the United
States for the district and division embracing the place
where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). Thus, whether a civil action may be removed from
state court turns on whether “the district court has
original jurisdiction, ” Aetna Health v.
Kirshner, 415 F.Supp.2d 109, 112 (D. Conn. 2006)
(Arterton, J.), as determined “by looking to the
complaint as it existed at the time the petition for removal
was filed, ” Moscovitch v. Danbury Hosp., 25
F.Supp.2d 74, 79 (D. Conn. 1998) (Droney, J.).
burden of establishing the existence of federal subject
matter jurisdiction rests on the removing party, ”
Kirshner, 415 F.Supp. at 112, and “courts may
raise jurisdictional defects in removal cases sua
sponte.” Stark v. Tyron, 171 F.Supp.3d
35, 39 (D. Conn. 2016) (citing Barbara v. N.Y. Stock
Exch., 99 F.3d 49, 53 (2d Cir. 1996)). “If it
appears before final judgment that a case was not properly
removed, because it was not within the original jurisdiction
of the United States district courts, the district court must
remand it to the state court from which it was
removed.” Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers
Vacation Tr., 463 U.S. 1, 8 (1983).
instant case stems from an automobile collision that occurred
on August 18, 2015, on Interstate 95 in Stratford,
Connecticut. A car driven by Linda Aidoo, Nationwide's
insured, became disabled due to a mechanical problem as she
traveled in the center southbound lane. See Compl.,
Ex. A to Pet. Removal, Doc. No. 1, at 9. At the time,
defendant Erald Cela was driving a tractor trailer, owned by
defendant M&K Equipment Leasing, behind Aidoo's
vehicle. See Id. After Aidoo stopped, Cela struck
her vehicle, allegedly as the result of his negligence (which
also has been attributed to M&K pursuant to section
52-183 of the Connecticut General Statutes). See Id.
at 10-11. Nationwide asserts that under Aidoo's insurance
policy, it reimbursed her for $13, 528.63 in losses caused by
and her passenger, Nana Aidoo, subsequently filed suit
against Cela and M&K in Connecticut Superior Court. The
defendants removed that civil action to this court on August
11, 2016. Pet. Removal, Doc. No. 1, at 2. Aidoo's lawsuit
remains pending before Judge Bolden. See Aidoo v.
Cela, No. 3:16-cv-00147 (VAB).
later,  Nationwide also sued Cela and M&K in
Connecticut Superior Court. Nationwide's claims are
brought as subrogee of its insured,  and its complaint contains
the same allegations and arises out of the same facts as
Aidoo's lawsuit. Nationwide claims damages in the amount
of $13, 528.63. See Compl., Ex. A to Pet. Removal,
Doc. No. 1, at 9, 11. The defendants removed Nationwide's
action from state court on December 14, 2016, arguing that-
because Judge Bolden has jurisdiction over Aidoo's
claims-I have supplemental jurisdiction over Nationwide's
lawsuit pursuant to section 1367(a). Pet. Removal, Doc. No.
1, at 3-4.
1441(a) permits removal of “civil action[s] . . . of
which the district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction.” Thus, the defendants may remove
Nationwide's action from state court only if I would have
had subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit had it been
filed in federal court. See Aetna Health, 415
F.Supp.2d at 112.
defendants do not assert that I have federal question
jurisdiction, because Nationwide does not bring any claims
that “aris[e] under the Constitution, laws, or treaties
of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. §
1331; Merrell Dow Pharm. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804,
808-10 (1986). They also admit that I lack diversity
jurisdiction: although the parties are completely diverse,
amount in controversy-$13, 528.63-falls below the
jurisdictional minimum of $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. The defendants contend, however, that
“because this [c]ourt does have original jurisdiction
over the Aidoo action, . . . this [c]ourt has
supplemental jurisdiction over the state court action
pursuant to [section] 1367(a).” Pet. Removal, Doc. No.
1, at 3-4. The defendants are mistaken, and I do not have
jurisdiction over the present case.
federal supplemental jurisdiction statute empowers district
courts to hear “claims that are so related to claims in
[an] action within [their] original jurisdiction that they
form part of the same case or controversy under Article III
of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. §
1367(a). The defendants assert that the present case and
Aidoo “clearly arise from the same motor
vehicle accident and involve the same parties, particularly
[because] any rights  Nationwide has to recovery against
[the defendants] are derivative of those of its
insured.” Pet. Removal, Doc. No. 1, at 4. The
defendants may well be correct that Aidoo and the
instant action “are so related . . . that they [would]
form part of the same case or controversy” if
Nationwide's claims were brought as part of Aidoo's
lawsuit. See id.; cf. 28 U.S.C. §
1367(a) (“[S]upplemental jurisdiction shall include
claims that involve the joinder or intervention of additional
parties.”). For purposes of removal, though, the
analysis is quite different.
“a ‘court must have jurisdiction over a case or
controversy before it may assert jurisdiction over
ancillary claims, '” the Supreme Court explicitly
has held that “[a]ncillary jurisdiction . . . cannot
provide the original jurisdiction that [defendants] must show
in order to qualify for removal under § 1441.”
Syngenta Crop Prot. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 34
(2002) (emphasis added) (quoting Peacock v. Thomas,
516 U.S. 349, 355 (1996)). Thus, “[i]n order to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction, a federal court must
first have before it a claim sufficient to confer
subject matter jurisdiction.” Montefiore Med. Ctr.
v. Teamsters Local 272, 642 F.3d 321, 332 (2d Cir. 2011)
(emphasis added) (citing United Mine Workers v.
Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 725 (1966)). “The
supplemental-jurisdiction statute is not a source of original
subject-matter jurisdiction, and a removal petition therefore
may not base subject-matter jurisdiction on the
supplemental-jurisdiction statute.”Ahearn v.
Charter Twp. of Bloomfield, 100 F.3d 451, 456 (6th Cir.
1996) (internal citations omitted). Accordingly, section 1367
“plainly does not provide a separate basis for removal
of independent state law actions.” Motion Control
Corp. v. SICK, Inc., 354 F.3d 702, 705 (8th Cir. 2003);
accord Nowak v. Ironworkers Local 6 Pension Fund, 81
F.3d 1182, 1187 (2d Cir. 1996) (“[T]he district court .
. . cannot exercise supplemental jurisdiction unless there is
first a proper basis for original federal
jurisdiction.”); Halmekangas v. State Farm Fire
& Cas. Co., 603 F.3d 290, 295 (5th Cir. 2010)
(“Supplemental jurisdiction on its own does not give