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Pelts v. D&L Towing, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

December 23, 2014

JACOB PELTS, Plaintiff,
v.
D&L TOWING, INC. and CITY OF CHESTERFIELD a/k/a CHESTERFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN A. ROSS, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Jacob Pelts' ("Pelts") Motion to Remand (Doc. 9). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the following reasons, the motion will be DENIED.

I. Relevant Procedural Background

On February 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Property Release (hereinafter "Original Petition") in the Associate Circuit Court in St. Charles against Defendants D&L Towing, Inc.'s ("D&L") and the City of Chesterfield ("Chesterfield") for their conduct arising from the towing and subsequent storage of his vehicle (Doc. 1-2 at 53-56) (Case No. 1411-AC1729). Plaintiff initially requested reimbursement for the towing and storage fees amounting to $1, 100 (Doc. 1-2 at 47-48). Relevant to the current motion, the Original Petition includes the following language regarding Plaintiff's civil rights:

19. Petitioner's civil rights are being violated by forcing them to pay for impound and storage fees which are not authorized under Missouri Law nor under contract.
20. Petitioner cannot be deprived of his life, liberty or property without due process of law....

(Doc. 1-2 at 55). Furthermore, in the Original Petition's prayer for relief, Plaintiff requests a Court order "declaring that the above described vehicle was wrongfully taken and withheld from Petitioner by Defendants violating Missouri Law and Petitioner's civil rights..." (Doc. 1-2 at 55).

On May 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Petition (hereinafter "Amended Petition") with the Associate Circuit Court indicating damages in excess of Twenty-five Thousand ($25, 000) Dollars and adding an additional claim, Count III-Violation of 42 USC Section 1983 (Doc. 1-2 at 17-27). On May 20, 2014, the Parties consented to the certification of Plaintiff's case to Circuit Court as the Amended Petition requested relief in excess of $25, 000. That same day, the Case was transferred to Circuit Court and assigned the Case No. 1411-AC1729-01.

On June 6, 2014, Chesterfield filed its notice of removal in federal court and its notice of filing the notice of removal in the Associate Circuit Court Case (Case No. 1411-AC1729). On July 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed the current motion to remand alleging a number of procedural and substantive issues with Chesterfield's notice of removal. Plaintiff also requests attorney's fees and costs.

II. Analysis

Removal statutes are strictly construed, and any doubts about the correctness of removal are resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction and remand. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); In re Bus. Men's Assurance Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993); Manning v. Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc., 304 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1148 (E.D. Mo. 2004) (citing Transit Cas. Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, 119 F.3d 619, 625 (8th Cir. 1997)). The party seeking removal and opposing remand has the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Cent. Iowa Power Coop. v. Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009); City of Univ. City, Missouri v. AT & T Wireless Services, Inc., 229 F.Supp.2d 927, 929 (E.D. Mo. 2002). A civil action brought in state court may be removed to the proper district court if the district court has original jurisdiction of the action. 28 U.S.C. ยง 1441(a).

A. Procedural Defects

1. Wrong Case Number and File

Plaintiff first asserts that Chesterfield's Notice of Removal cites the incorrect case number and, therefore Chesterfield has removed the wrong case. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Chesterfield's removal notice was filed in the Associate Circuit Court case after the case was certified and transferred to the Circuit Court. Further, Plaintiff indicates that the correct case is still pending in state court with an upcoming hearing date.[1] Chesterfield responded ...


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