United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff’s allegation that
Defendant’s car hit him as he was attempting to cross a
roadway. Plaintiff filed this case in the Circuit Court of
Jackson County, Missouri, and Defendant removed to federal
court by invoking the Court’s diversity jurisdiction.
before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc.
6). Plaintiff argues the Court lacks diversity jurisdiction
to hear this case because his post-removal stipulation states
the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000. The Court
holds the post-removal stipulation does not deprive the Court
of subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case. But since
both parties agree to return to state court, the Court
construes the pending motion as a consent motion to remand
and grants it.
court action may be removed by the defendant to federal court
if the case falls within the original jurisdiction of the
district courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). If the case is not
within the original subject matter jurisdiction of the
district court, the district court must remand the case to
the state court from which it was removed. Id.
§ 1447(c). The burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal, In re Bus.
Men’s Assurance Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th
Cir. 1993), and all doubts are resolved in favor of remand.
Baker v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., 745 F.3d
919, 923 (8th Cir. 2014).
falls within the court’s original diversity
jurisdiction if the parties are citizens of different states
and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of
interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The party
invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proving the
requisite amount by a preponderance of the evidence.
Rasmussen v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 410
F.3d 1029, 1031 (8th Cir. 2005). The removing party need not
prove that “the damages are greater than the
requisite amount, ” but that “the claims . . .
could, that is might, legally satisfy the amount in
controversy requirement.” James Neff Kramper Family
Farm P’ship v. IBP, Inc., 393 F.3d 828, 833 (8th
Cir. 2005) (citations omitted).
the amount in controversy requirement is met is determined by
looking at the complaint as of the time the notice of removal
is filed. Halsne v. Liberty Mut. Group, 40 F.Supp.2d
1087, 1089 (N.D. Iowa 1999). “A subsequent change, such
as the plaintiff’s post-removal voluntary reduction of
his claim to less than the jurisdictional amount, does not
defeat federal jurisdiction acquired through removal.”
Hatridge v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 415 F.2d 809,
814 (8th Cir. 1969); St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red
Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289-90 (1938) (“Events
occurring subsequent to the institution of suit which reduce
the amount recoverable below the statutory limit do not oust
jurisdiction.”). The court may consider post-removal
stipulations, affidavits, or amendments to the complaint only
to the extent they clarify, rather than amend, whether the
requirement is met. Neighbors v. Muha, No.
05-472-CV-W-GAF, 2005 WL 2346968, at *3 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 26,
is no dispute that the parties are citizens of different
states and Defendant timely filed the notice of removal; the
issue is whether the amount in dispute is more than $75, 000.
Relevant to this question, the Petition (Doc. 6-1) alleges
that as a result of Defendant’s negligence, Plaintiff
sustained injury “to his head, left knee, left leg, and
body” which “are permanent, painful, and
progressive, ” and will in the future cause
“great pain and suffering.” Pet. ¶ 8, 11.
Plaintiff has incurred some medical bills already and will
incur more in the future. Id. ¶ 9. Also, he has
sustained noneconomic damages as a result of his diminished
ability to enjoy life. Id. ¶ 10.
Defendant’s notice of removal (Doc. 1) states
Plaintiff’s alleged damages exceed $75,
to Plaintiff’s motion to remand is a one-sentence
stipulation made post-removal stating that “the amount
in controversy is less than $75, 000.” Stipulation
argues that his stipulation to an amount of damages less than
$75, 000 is sufficient to deprive the Court of subject matter
jurisdiction. He notes that the Petition does not set forth a
specific amount of damages, apparently referencing the fact
that under Missouri’s pleading rules, a petition in a
tort case may not include a request for a specific amount of
damages. But he does not deny that at the time of removal the
amount in dispute was more than $75, 000.
responds that diversity jurisdiction was proper “based
on the record when Defendant filed his Notice of
Removal.” Resp. (Doc. 8) at 1. Interestingly, Defendant
also reports he does not oppose remand, subject to the
condition that “any order of remand provide that
Plaintiff has stipulated to his damages being less than $75,
000 and is legally bound by that stipulation.”
Id. at 2.
threshold matter, the Court finds the amount in dispute
requirement was met at the time Defendant filed the notice of
removal in federal court. The question is not whether
Plaintiff’s damages are actually greater than
$75, 000, but whether the claims could legally
satisfy the amount in controversy requirement. James Neff
Kramper, 393 F.3d at 833. The Petition alleged the
accident hurt Plaintiff’s “head, left knee, left
leg, and body” leaving him with permanent and
progressive injuries, present and future medical bills, and
noneconomic damages. A jury could easily award more than ...