United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. Doc. #7. For the reasons
below, the motion is granted, and the matter is remanded to
the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri.
suit arises from an alleged improperly performed oil change
by Defendant Heartland Automotive Services II, Inc.
(“Heartland”) on Plaintiff's automobile, a
2007 Mazda CX-7 Sport. Doc. #1-1. Plaintiff filed suit in the
Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri on May 16, 2016.
Id. On January 26, 2017, the parties participated in
a confidential mediation, but were unable to resolve the
matter. Immediately after the mediation concluded,
Heartland's counsel e-mailed Plaintiff's counsel to
confirm Plaintiff's final offer during the mediation was
$390, 000. Doc. #1-3. Plaintiff's counsel confirmed, and
Heartland filed a notice of removal that same day. Heartland
argues jurisdiction is proper because the parties are
diverse, and Plaintiff's “demand” during
mediation was the first time Heartland was on notice that the
amount in controversy exceeded the jurisdictional requisite
of $75, 000. Doc. #1. Plaintiff seeks remand, arguing
Heartland's removal was not timely because the case was
removed more than thirty days after service was effectuated,
and the e-mails between counsel do not constitute
“other paper” that would make the case removable.
a defendant has thirty days to file a notice of removal after
receiving the initial pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1).
Nevertheless, the thirty day time limit runs only when the
initial “complaint explicitly discloses the plaintiff
is seeking damages in excess of the federal jurisdictional
amount.” In re Willis, 228 F.3d 896, 897 (8th
Cir. 2000). Plaintiff's Petition did not explicitly
disclose Plaintiff was seeking damages in excess of $75, 000,
and the Court rejects Plaintiff's argument that Heartland
should have been on alert that this case was removable from
the outset. Even assuming Plaintiff's right to receive
punitive damages and attorney's fees in cases alleging
violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the
suit nevertheless arises from a defective oil change.
Plaintiff also seeks damages for work missed and emotional
distress, but the Court strains to find total damages in this
matter would approach an amount near $75, 000. Accordingly,
remand is not granted on the basis that the initial pleading
indicated this matter was removable.
the Court grants Plaintiff's motion to remand because the
mediation proceedings and the subsequent e-mail by Plaintiff
are not “other paper” under section 1446(b)(3).
When a case is not removable by its initial pleadings, the
defendant may file a notice of removal within thirty days
after receiving “other paper from which it may first be
ascertained that the case is one which is or has become
removable.” § 1446(b)(3). The term “other
paper” applies to “papers and documents involved
in the case being removed.” Dahl v. R.J. Reynolds
Tobacco Co., 478 F.3d 965, 969 (8th Cir. 2007). The
Eighth Circuit has acknowledged that a settlement demand
“may constitute ‘other paper' for purposes of
§ 1446(b)(3).” Gibson v. Clean Harbors Envtl.
Servs., Inc., 840 F.3d 515, 521 (8th Cir. 2016). That
said, a letter from plaintiffs' counsel recommending a
dollar amount that would “resolve the matter” did
not constitute “other paper” because plaintiffs
did not state they would definitely settle for the
recommended amount, meaning the defendant could not
unambiguously ascertain jurisdictional requirements were met.
counsel's e-mail reply to Heartland is not “other
paper” under section 1446(b)(3). The e-mail was merely
a continuation of a confidential mediation in which the
parties engaged in negotiations. The e-mail is not the type
of “other paper” from which Heartland could
unambiguously ascertain that the amount in controversy
exceeded $75, 000. It may be Heartland first learned of
Plaintiff's valuation of the matter during the mediation,
but Heartland's attempt to frame Plaintiff's e-mail
as a settlement demand is unpersuasive. While a demand letter
may constitute “other paper, ” Plaintiff's
e-mail did not explicitly state it would settle the matter
for $390, 000. Rather, the e-mail simply confirmed
Plaintiff's final bargaining position at mediation.
Furthermore, the Court will not use dollar values exchanged
during a confidential mediation to find the amount in
controversy is satisfied. Accordingly, the Court grants
Plaintiff's motion to remand.
above reasons, the Court remands this action to the Circuit
Court of Jackson County, Missouri for further proceedings.
The Court declines to award Plaintiff ...