United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR REMAND TO STATE COURT
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge
a personal injury suit filed by the Plaintiff Magaly Morillo
to recover damages against Burlington Coat Factory of
Connecticut, LLC (“Burlington Coat of
Connecticut”); Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse
Corporation (“Burlington Coat Warehouse”), and
Burlington's Regional Operations Manager Scott DiSalvo
“Defendants”). Plaintiff initially filed this
action in Connecticut state court, but Defendants removed the
case to federal court on the basis of diversity of
citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Before the Court is
Plaintiff's motion to remand the case back to state
court. For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS this
resides in Waterbury, Connecticut. [Dkt. 1-1 (Summons &
Compl.) at 1 of PDF]. The Complaint alleges that Burlington
Coat of Connecticut is a “Connecticut company”
and Burlington Coat Warehouse “is a Delaware company,
” both with addresses on Route 130 North in Burlington,
New Jersey. Id. at 2, 6 of PDF. They are both
alleged to operate and manage the Burlington Coat Factory
store in Waterbury, Connecticut, where Plaintiff sustained
her injuries. See id. Scott DiSalvo is a
“resident of Connecticut” who is “a
Regional Operations Manager for Burlington Coat Factory
stores, ” including the Waterbury store where Plaintiff
slipped and fell. Id. at 10 of PDF.
Complaint alleges three separate negligence counts against
the three Defendants. The content of each count is nearly
identical. In essence, the Complaint alleges that all three
Defendants, their “agents, servants and/or employees,
had a duty to inspect and maintain the floor near the cash
register station. . . .” Id. at 3, 7, 10-11 of
PDF. Defendants allegedly failed to do the following:
properly inspect the floor; maintain the floor; follow
adequate procedure to ensure the floor was properly inspected
and maintained; properly train agents, servants, and/or
employees to inspect and maintain the floor; warn the
plaintiff the floor was unsafe; erect signs to isolate the
unsafe area; enact procedures to ensure paper was not left on
the floor. Id. at 3-4, 7-8, 11-12 of PDF. Defendants
knew or should have known people would walk near the cash
register station, they knew or should have known there was
paper on the floor, and they allowed the paper to remain on
the floor for an unreasonable period of time. Id.
contend that Burlington Coat of Connecticut is not a citizen
of Connecticut as alleged in the Complaint; and further that
DiSalvo was fraudulently joined in order to defeat diversity.
[Dkt. 1 (Notice of Removal) ¶ 5]. Defendants also
averred that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Id. ¶ 3.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction only empowered to
hear cases specifically authorized by the Constitution or
statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Federal jurisdiction
is available only when a federal question is presented, 28
U.S.C. § 1331, or when the plaintiff and the defendant
are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000; 28 U.S.C. § 1332. A case may be
removed from state court to federal court only if it could
have originally been commenced in federal court on either the
basis of federal question or diversity jurisdiction. 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a); see Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Allapattah Services, Inc., 545 U.S. 546, (2005)
(Ginsburg, J., dissenting) (“The Supreme Court has
interpreted § 1441 to prohibit removal unless the entire
action, as it stands at the time of removal, could have been
filed in federal court in the first instance.”);
Citibank, N.A. v. Swiatkoski, 395 F.Supp.2d 5, 8
(E.D.N.Y. 2005). In other words, a party generally may not
remove an action from state to federal court unless the
federal court possesses original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C.
“generally evaluate jurisdictional facts . . . on the
basis of the pleadings, viewed at the time when [the]
defendant files the notice of removal.”
Blockbuster, Inc. v. Galeno, 472 F.3d 53, 56-57 (2d
Cir. 2006); see Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305 U.S.
534, 536-38 (1939). The removing party bears the burden of
proof. See United Food & Commercial Workers Union,
Local 919, AFL-CIO v. CenterMark Properties Meriden Square,
Inc., 30 F.3d 298, 301 (2d Cir. 1994). Where the
“allegations of jurisdictional facts are challenged by
[its] adversary in any appropriate manner, ”
the averring party must provide “competent
proof.” Id. at 301 (quoting McNutt v.
General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189
jurisdiction exists over “civil actions where the
matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000,
exclusive of interests and costs, and is between . . .
citizens of different states.” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). “Citizens of different states”
requires complete diversity, i.e., the citizenships of all
defendants must be different from the citizenships of all
plaintiffs. Cresswell v. Sullivan & Cromwell,
922 F.2d 60, 68 (2d Cir. 1990). In resolving questions of
removal jurisdiction, federal courts are to "construe
the removal statute narrowly" and “resolv[e] any
doubts against removability.” Purdue Pharma L.P. v.
Kentucky, 704 F.3d 208, 213 (2d Cir. 2013).
Amount in Controversy
Complaint merely alleges that Plaintiff seeks “greater
than Fifteen Thousand Dollars. . . .” [Dkt. 1-1 at 15
of PDF]. This language is the boilerplate demand statement as
required by Connecticut state court procedure. See United
Food, 30 F.3d at 305 (addressing the boilerplate state
court procedure language in the context of a case involving
injunctive relief); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-91 (requiring
a civil complaint to specify whether the monetary damages
sought are less than $2, 500; between $2, 500 and $15, 000;
or greater than $15, 000). Plaintiff does not challenge this
aspect of diversity of citizenship and the Court can imagine
that medical bills for a torn meniscus (which often requires
surgery), amongst her other injuries, might exceed $75, 000.
Accordingly, the Court will not remand the case on the basis
of the amount in controversy.
parties dispute whether Burlington Coat of Connecticut is a
citizen of Connecticut as alleged in the Complaint and
contends that DiSalvo is fraudulently joined. Defendants have
failed to meet their burden of presenting the required
evidence for the Court ...