United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND CASE TO
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rhonda Benn ("Plaintiff") filed this personal
injury action in the Superior Court of Connecticut against
Defendant Metro-North Railroad Company
("Defendant"). Defendant removed the case to
federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
Plaintiff has now moved to remand the matter to state court.
This Ruling resolves the motion.
an action for damages for injuries Plaintiff claims to have
sustained on May 18, 2017, while a passenger on a train
operated by Defendant. Plaintiff alleges that the train
derailed, causing her to suffer serious injuries.
served the original state court complaint on August 30, 2017.
Doc. 1-1. Pursuant to section 52-91 of the Connecticut
General Statutes, the complaint contained a demand of
monetary damages in excess of $15, 000. Doc. 1-1 at 8. In
her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that she suffered
"injuries of a serious, painful and permanent
nature," including injuries to her cervical and lumbar
spines, head trauma, radiculopathy to the upper extremity
area, and emotional distress. Doc. 1-1 ¶4. On November
9, 2017, Plaintiff withdrew the third count of her complaint
alleging recklessness; Defendant filed an answer to the
complaint the same day. Doc. 1-4.
states that it "reasonably believed" that
Plaintiff's injuries were "soft tissue in
nature," and based on Defendant's "resolution
of numerous similarly pleaded claims arising out of a prior
derailment," Defendant thought that the amount in
controversy did not exceed the jurisdictional threshold for
diversity purposes. Doc. 1 ¶9(e). Defendant contends
that it first became apparent that the amount in controversy
exceeded $75, 000 for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction
when Plaintiff served her amended responses to
Defendant's discovery requests on April 5, 2018.
Id. Specifically, Plaintiff included an updated
medical summary with bills amounting to $108, 240.09.
1, 2018, twenty-six days later receiving Plaintiff's
amended discovery responses, Defendant removed the case to
federal court. Plaintiff asserts that the removal was
untimely pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446, and seeks to have
this case remanded to state court.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant in a civil action
that has been brought in state court may instead choose to
litigate in federal court, if the complaint is one over which
the federal court has original jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C.
[t]he notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall
be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant,
through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial
pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such
action or proceeding is based . . . .
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1).
however, the case stated in the initial pleading is not
removable, the thirty-day deadline for the defendant's
removal does not begin until receipt of "an amended
pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may
first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has
become removable." 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3).
it is undisputed that the court would have original
jurisdiction over the matter in controversy. The parties are
diverse: Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of Connecticut;
Defendant is "a public benefit corporation created under
the Public Authorities Laws of the State of New York"
and is a citizen of New York for the purposes of diversity
jurisdiction. Doc. 1 ¶ 9(a)-(b). Further, it is now
apparent that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, as
Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $100, 000. Id.
¶ 9(g)-(h). What remains to be resolved, however, is
whether under 28 U.S.C. § 1446, Defendant timely filed
the notice of removal.
Second Circuit's decision in Moltner v. Starbucks
Coffee Co., 624 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2010) is
instructive. The plaintiff in Moltner severely
injured herself when hot tea purchased from the defendant,
Starbucks Coffee Company, spilled on her leg and foot.
Id. at 35-6. She then suffered a number of secondary
injuries during her stay in the hospital. Id. at 36.
Her complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court, did not
state the exact amount of monetary damages sought.