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Hughes v. Transwood, Inc.

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

February 16, 2018

DAVID HUGHES, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on review of the record regarding the Court's subject matter jurisdiction over this lawsuit.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff seeks monetary relief for injuries he allegedly sustained, and for damage his motor vehicle allegedly sustained, during an accident on June 16, 2016.[1] Plaintiff alleges that, at the time of the accident, he was a passenger in a vehicle he owned that another person was driving.[2] Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Richard Terry, as an “agent, servant and/or employee of” Defendant Transwood, Inc. (“Transwood”), was driving a tractor-trailer or truck within the scope of his employment.[3] While Defendant Terry was operating his tractor-trailer on Interstate 270 near the Route N exit ramp, “the left rear outer tire on his truck exploded . . . [and] a piece of the exploding tire . . . flew through the air and struck [the] vehicle” in which Plaintiff was a passenger, allegedly “causing Plaintiff injuries and damages.”[4] Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, as a direct and proximate result of each Defendant's carelessness and negligence, Plaintiff's motor vehicle was damaged and:

Plaintiff was seriously injured and damaged; Plaintiff sustained injuries to his right arm, neck and back; [and] Plaintiff required treatment and will require treatment in the future[; and]
. . . Plaintiff incurred treatment expenses in an amount not yet determined and will incur treatment expenses in the future; Plaintiff's ability to work, labor and enjoy life has been and will be impaired, all to his detriment and damage; [and] Plaintiff lost wages and may lose wages in the future.[5]

(Footnote added.) Plaintiff claims each Defendant is liable based on negligence[6] (Counts I and III) and res ipsa loquitur[7] (Counts II and IV).[8] In the WHEREFORE clause of each count, Plaintiff seeks judgment “in an amount that is fair and reasonable in excess of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25, 000.00), together with his costs.”[9]

         Plaintiff filed his petition in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 Defendant Terry, with Defendant Transwood's consent, removed the lawsuit to this Court based on this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[10]

         II. Subject matter jurisdiction

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has admonished district courts to “be attentive to a satisfaction of jurisdictional requirements in all cases.” Sanders v. Clemco Indus., 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir. 1987). “Lack of subject-matter jurisdiction of a lawsuit cannot be waived by the parties - or ignored by the courts - at any stage of the litigation.” Sadler v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, 466 F.3d 623, 625 (8th Cir. 2006) (citing Hunter v. Underwood, 362 F.3d 468, 476 (8th Cir. 2004)). Therefore, the Court “may raise the [subject matter jurisdiction] issue[s] . . . even if the parties do not.” Magee v. Exxon Corp., 135 F.3d 599, 601 (8th Cir. 1998).

         If the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case must be remanded to state court. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Importantly, “all doubts about federal jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of remand[.]” Central Iowa Power Coop., 561 F.3d at 912.

         As the litigant removing the lawsuit from state court to federal court, the defendant bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Central Iowa Power Coop. v. Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009). In removed cases, the district court reviews the state court petition pending at the time of removal to determine the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 291 (1938). “A defendant may remove a state law claim to federal court only if the action originally could have been filed there.” In re: Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 619 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)). Under this Court's original diversity jurisdiction a citizen of one state may file a state law claim against a citizen of a different state when the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).

         (A.) Diversity of citizenship requirement

         To establish the diversity of citizenship requirement, there must be “complete diversity of citizenship among the litigants.” One Point Sols., LLC v. Borchert, 486 F.3d 342, 346 (8th Cir. 2007). “Complete diversity of citizenship exists where no defendant holds citizenship in the same state where any plaintiff holds citizenship.” Id. (citing Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978)). In a removed lawsuit, “the parties must be diverse both when the plaintiff initiates the action in state court and when the defendant files the notice of removal in federal court.” Ch ...

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