United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR REMAND
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Williams (“Plaintiff”) and Target Corporation
(“Defendant” or “Target”) have
jointly moved the Court to remand this case to Connecticut
Superior Court. ECF. No. 11.
reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.
shopping one day at a Target store, Ms. Williams allegedly
slipped on water “or other slippery substance on the
floor” in the fruit aisle of the supermarket, resulting
in severe injuries. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1-1. Ms.
Williams then brought a negligence suit in Connecticut
Superior Court seeking money damages from Target.
Id. ¶ 4. She allegedly sustained a medial and
lateral meniscus tear in her left knee, causing her pain and
mental anguish, and causing her to incur various medical
bills relating to caring for her injury. Id. ¶
6-7. Ms. Williams did not quantify her damages, other than to
state she seeks “monetary damages.” Id.
removed the case to this Court, invoking federal diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Def.'s
Notice of Removal at 1, ECF No. 1. Target alleged that
“any award in favor of the Plaintiff could potentially
exceed the jurisdictional threshold of $75, 000.”
Id. ¶ 2. The company further alleged that Ms.
Williams is domiciled in Windsor, Connecticut, id.
¶ 3, while Target's principal place of business is
Minneapolis, Minnesota, id. ¶ 4. Target argued
that removal was proper because there was diversity of
citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy
met the jurisdictional threshold. Id. ¶ 5.
September 12, 2017, Ms. Williams and Target jointly moved the
Court to remand the case to Connecticut Superior Court. J.
Mot. at 1, ECF No. 11. In support of their motion, the
parties provided a Joint Stipulation, signed and agreed to by
Ms. Williams, in which she agrees not to seek a judgment in
this action against Target for an amount greater than $75,
000. Id. ¶ 1, ECF No. 11-1. Ms. Williams
further agrees that no judgment shall enter against Target
for a sum greater than $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and should the finder of fact return a verdict in Ms.
Williams's favor in an amount greater than $75, 000, the
verdict will be reduced to $75, 000 and judgment will enter
for that amount, exclusive of interest and costs.
Id. ¶ 2. Finally, Ms. Williams agrees that
should she see seek to join additional defendants to this
action who were agents, employees, or servants of Target, the
total judgment or award as against all defendants shall not
exceed $75, 000, again, exclusive of interest and costs.
Id. at 3.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts have “original jurisdiction of all 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). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, “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 . . . embracing the place where such
action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
has the burden of demonstrating that removal of a case to
federal court is proper. California Pub. Employees'
Ret. Sys. v. WorldCom, Inc., 368 F.3d 86, 100 (2d Cir.
2004); Mehlenbacher v. Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc., 216
F.3d 291, 296 (2d Cir. 2000). The Court must “resolve
any doubts against removability, ” out of
“respect for the limited jurisdiction of the federal
courts and the rights of states.” In re Methyl
Tertiary Butyl Ether (“MTBE”) Prod. Liab.
Litig., 488 F.3d 112, 124 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
issue is whether a plaintiff in a diversity case may secure a
post-removal remand to state court by stipulating that the
amount-in controversy is less than the diversity threshold of
$75, 000. Because Ms. Williams now has stipulated that the
amount in controversy is not greater than $75, 000, exclusive
of interests and costs, both parties argue that the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction. J. Mot. at 1. The Court
existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction over an
action removed from state court to federal court is normally
to be determined as of the time of removal.”
Hallingby v. Hallingby, 574 F.3d 51, 56 (2d Cir.
2009). Typically, the amount in controversy is established by
the face of the complaint and the dollar-amount actually
claimed. Horton v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 367 U.S.
348, 353 (1961); Scherer v. Equitable Life Assurance
Soc'y of U.S., 347 F.3d 394, 397 (2d Cir.
2003). The Second Circuit “recognizes a rebuttable
presumption that the face of the complaint is a good faith
representation of the actual amount in controversy.”
Ocean Ships, Inc. v. Stiles, 315 F.3d 111, 116 (2d
as here, “the pleadings are inconclusive, ”
“courts may look to documents outside the pleadings to
other evidence in the record to determine the amount in
controversy.” Yong Qin Luo v. Mikel, 625 F.3d
772, 775 (2d Cir. 2010). “[F]ederal courts permit
individual plaintiffs, who are the masters of their
complaints, to avoid removal to federal court, and to obtain
a remand to state court, by stipulating to amounts at issue
that fall below the federal jurisdictional requirement,
” so long as the stipulation is “legally binding
on all plaintiffs.” Standard Fire Ins. Co. v.
Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 595-96 (2013). The Second
Circuit, however, has also made “clear that a plaintiff
cannot seek to deprive a federal court of jurisdiction by
reducing her demand to $75, 000.00 ...