Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mishra v. Colmen Motors, LLC

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

February 2, 2018

GYANESHWAR PRASAD MISHRA, Plaintiff,
v.
COLMEN MOTORS, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint by interlineation (ECF No. 21), second motion to remand (ECF No. 22), and “Motion, in the Alternative, for Dismissal Without Prejudice” (ECF No. 27).[1] Defendant is currently unrepresented by counsel and has not responded to Plaintiff's motions. On January 31, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Plaintiff's second motion to remand. (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff's counsel appeared at the hearing.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff originally filed in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County a three-count petition seeking monetary relief from Defendant for damages resulting from an automobile sale. (ECF No. 3). Plaintiff alleged that Defendant was liable for: violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty - Federal Trade Improvements Commission Act (“MMWA”); negligent misrepresentation; and violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (“MMPA”). Plaintiff requested actual damages, punitive damages in the amount of the greater of $500, 000 or five times the actual damages, and costs and attorney's fees. (ECF No. 3).

         On September 30, 2016, Defendant removed the case to this Court on the bases of federal question, diversity, and supplemental jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff moved for remand, arguing that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because Defendant failed to: (1) establish the $50, 000 amount in controversy needed for the Court to exercise jurisdiction over the MMWA claim; (2) that the amount in controversy exceeds the $75, 000 requirement for the Court to exercise diversity jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims; and (3) show that the MMPA claim turns on substantial questions of federal law so as to fall within the Court's federal question jurisdiction. (ECF No. 15).

         The Court denied Plaintiff's first motion to remand on March 15, 2017, finding, among other things, that the Court had subject-matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's MMPA claim “because the complete diversity and amount in controversy requirements are satisfied.” (ECF No. 15). The Court explained that, because the MMPA permits plaintiffs to seek punitive damages, which, in this case, could exceed $75, 000, the amount of possible damages was not fixed below and there is no legal certainty that Plaintiff would recover less than $75, 000.

         On June 6, 2017, defense counsel filed a motion to withdraw. (ECF No. 16). The Court granted the motion and directed Defendant to retain new counsel by August 5, 2017. (ECF No. 17). Based on the record, Defendant has not retained counsel.

         On January 5, 2018, the Court entered a show cause order stating that “the case has been pending for six months without any action” and directing Plaintiff to show good cause why his claims should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. (ECF No. 19). Plaintiff filed a response to the show cause order (ECF No. 20), acknowledging that, because Defendant had not retained counsel and previous counsel refused to participate in discovery, Plaintiff “possessed multiple bases to request entry of a default judgment against Defendant.” However, Plaintiff states that “after the removal of this action, Defendant Colmen Motors went out of business and was dissolved, and Plaintiff therefore “questions the utility in moving for a default judgment under the existing claims in the Complaint and has been investigating other courses of action[, such as adding new claims and/or joining additional parties, ] in order to recover damages.”

         With its response to the show cause order, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint and second motion to remand (ECF Nos. 21 & 22). In his motion to amend the complaint, Plaintiff requests leave to remove from his MMPA count the “single factual allegation . . . regarding the willfulness of Defendant's misconduct” and the request for “punitive damages in the amount of the greater of $500, 000 or five times the actual damages.” In his second motion to remand (ECF No. 22), Plaintiff argues that, under the complaint as amended, the damages do not meet the $75, 000 threshold. Citing Hoeschestenback v. Accu-Pay APS, LLC, No. 4:15-CV-457 RWS, 2015 WL 3609088 (E.D.Mo. Apr. 15, 2015), Plaintiff claims that a district court may remand the case to state court after the plaintiff amends the complaint to remove the basis for subject-matter jurisdiction.

         At the hearing on Plaintiff's second motion for remand, Plaintiff's counsel acknowledged the general rule that a plaintiff's post-removal actions to reduce the amount in controversy does not deprive the district court of jurisdiction. See St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 292 (1938). However, counsel asserted that his proposed amendment to the petition was merely a “clarification.” Plaintiff's counsel explained that his client sought remand rather than a default judgment or dismissal without prejudice because he was concerned about losing service on the now-dissolved Defendant.

         Subsequent to the hearing, Plaintiff filed a “Motion, in the Alternative, for Dismissal Without Prejudice.” (ECF No. 27). In the motion, Plaintiff states that he “is taking this action because Coleman [sic] Motors, LLC has ceased operating, and Plaintiff views the best path to recovery as adding certain individuals as defendants and amending the cause of action against Coleman [sic] Motors, LLC to include violation of Florida laws.” Plaintiff reasons that “[p]roceeding with a trial against a defunct Florida business on Plaintiff's existing cause of action would be an ineffective use of judicial resources” and “[d]ismissal would not unfairly affect Defendant, in that Defendant is unrepresented and not currently participating in the litigation.” Plaintiff further states that, should the Court grant his motion to dismiss without prejudice, he “intends to re-file a similar cause of action, involving the same vehicle at issue in this case, in state court under the $75, 000 limit of federal jurisdiction, such that dismissal of this action without prejudice would not result in a waste of judicial time and effort.”[2]

         II. Discussion

         A. Motions to amend the petition and remand to state court

         Plaintiff seeks to remove from the petition his request for punitive damage and remand the case to state court for lack of diversity jurisdiction. (ECF Nos. 21 & 22). It is well-established that, where the plaintiff “after removal, by stipulation, by affidavit, or by amendment of his pleadings, reduces the claim below the requisite amount, this does not deprive the district court of jurisdiction.” St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 292 (1938) (cited with approval in Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections v. Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 391 (1998)). However, the Eastern District has recognized that a “court may consider post-removal stipulations, affidavits, or amendments to the complaint only to the extent that they clarify, rather than amend, whether the requirement is met.” Toberman ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.