United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER REMANDING CASE
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 25, 2019, the Court considered the question of
whether it had subject matter jurisdiction over this case
under its “‘independent obligation to consider
the presence or absence of subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte.'” Order, dated Jan. 25, 2019
(“1/25/19 Order”), ECF No. 43, at 1 (quoting
Joseph v. Leavitt, 465 F.3d 87, 89 (2d Cir. 2006)).
The Court noted that while, at the time of removal, Wells
Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Defendant”) represented that
Walter Lippmann and 36-38 North Water Street LLC
(“Plaintiffs”) were alleging a federal claim
under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681
et seq., Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleged
only state law claims. Id. at 1-2.
Court then found, in examining whether the state law claims
fell within its diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332, that the amount in controversy had not been clearly
satisfied, as neither the original nor the Amended Complaint
asserted the amount of damages sought by Plaintiffs.
Id. at 3. The Court further found that “while
Defendant's counsel maintains that more than $75, 000 is
in controversy, Defendant has not supported that assertion
with any facts in its Notice of Removal, or pointed to other
facts in the record” supporting that claim.
Court thus ordered Plaintiffs, if they wished to stipulate
that the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000 and to
be bound by that stipulation, to file any such stipulation by
February 15, 2019. Id. at 4; see also Id.
at 3 (“‘[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.'”) (quoting Standard Fire Ins. Co.
v. Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 595-96 (2013)).
February 15, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the following stipulation
in response to that Order: “The Plaintiffs stipulate
that, at present, the amount in controversy is less than
Seventy Five Thousand and no/100 ($75, 000) U.S.
Dollars.” Stipulation, dated Feb. 15, 2019, ECF No. 44.
same day, Wells Fargo moved for the Court to stay a remand
pending an opportunity to file a brief or, in the
alternative, for the Court to reject Plaintiffs'
stipulation as insufficient. Defendant's [Corrected]
Motion to Stay Remand, dated Feb. 15, 2019, ECF No. 46. Wells
Fargo argued that the stipulation was not in compliance with
the Court's Order, or with the authority cited to in the
Court's Order, because it was not a binding stipulation
that Plaintiffs would continue to claim less than the
jurisdictional amount. Id. ¶ 6.
February 26, 2019, the Court agreed with Wells Fargo and
rejected Plaintiffs' stipulation as it did not properly
bind Plaintiffs to continue to seek less than $75, 000 and
thus could not “serve to clarify an otherwise ambiguous
amount in controversy.” Order, dated Feb. 26, 2019, ECF
No. 47, at 2. The Court granted Plaintiffs leave, however, to
file a corrected, binding stipulation by March 4, 2019.
February 28, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the following
The Plaintiffs stipulate that (1) no judgment shall enter
against the Defendant greater than Seventy Five Thousand and
no/100 ($75, 000) U.S. Dollars, exclusive of interest and
costs (hereinafter, ‘$75, 000'); (2) should the
finder of fact return a verdict in Plaintiffs' 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; and (3) if Plaintiffs seek
to join additional defendants to this action, who were
agents, employees or servants of the Defendant, the total
judgment or award as against all defendants shall not exceed
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.
Amended Stipulation as to Amount Claimed, dated Feb. 28, 2019
(“Am. Stip.”), ECF No. 48.
this binding stipulation, Plaintiff “have shown that
the amount in controversy is insufficient under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332.” Williams v. Target Corp., No.
3:17-cv-1263 (VAB), 2017 WL 4678180, at *2 (D. Conn. Oct. 17,
2017) (finding amount in controversy properly clarified where
plaintiff stipulated: (1) not to seek a judgment against
defendant for an amount greater than $75, 000; (2) that no
judgment shall enter against defendant for a sum greater than
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and that should
the finder of fact return a verdict in plaintiff'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; and (3) 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,
exclusive of interest and costs) (internal citations
omitted). This stipulation “clarifies, rather than
amends, an otherwise ambiguous amount in controversy.”
Id. (citing Luce v. Kohl's Dep't Stores,
Inc., 23 F.Supp.3d 82, 85 (D. Conn. 2014)).
“respect for the limited jurisdiction of the federal
courts, ” In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Prod.
Liab. Litig., 488 F.3d 112, 124 (2d Cir. 2007), this
case is hereby DISMISSED AND REMANDED to the
Connecticut Superior Court in the Judicial District of New
Clerk of the Court is respectfully directed ...