United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
THERESA M. GARLAND, Plaintiff,
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC, d/b/a Mr. Cooper, et al. Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
this case to state court. (Doc. 12). The motion has been
fully briefed. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction
of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 21). For the reasons stated
below, the motion will be denied.
Theresa Garland (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant
action in Missouri state court against Nationstar Mortgage,
LLC (“Defendant Nationstar”) and The Bank of New
York Mellon Corporation (“Defendant Mellon”)
(collectively, “Defendants”). In her Petition,
she alleges as follows. On October 1, 1997, Plaintiff
purchased a piece of real property (the
“Property”) for approximately $67, 000 and took
out a mortgage loan through Countrywide Mortgage. After an
unknown number of sales, and prior to February 2017,
Defendant Mellon became the investor for Plaintiff's
mortgage, with Defendant Nationstar as the servicer. In
September 2018, after a job loss and the exhaustion of her
savings, Plaintiff started to fall behind on her mortgage
payments. Over the next few months, Plaintiff and Nationstar
engaged in correspondence and telephone calls regarding the
amount Plaintiff owed and the steps Plaintiff could take to
avoid foreclosure. While Plaintiff was taking the steps
Nationstar asked her to take, Plaintiff was informed that the
Property had been placed in foreclosure. Plaintiff continued
to engage in correspondence and telephone calls with
Nationstar about what information she needed to submit to
prevent a foreclosure sale, and Nationstar told her that the
sale would be put on hold while her application for mortgage
assistance was being considered. On March 7, 2019, Plaintiff
received a letter stating that the foreclosure sale had taken
place on February 1, 2019. On March 22, 2019, Nationstar
filed an unlawful detainer action to evict Plaintiff from the
attached to the Notice of Removal evidence showing that the
foreclosure sale price of the Property was $51, 835.63; that
appears to be undisputed. (Doc. 1-1, at p. 53). Defendants
have submitted an appraisal report for Property from a
state-certified residential real estate appraiser, which
concludes that the estimated value of the property as of
January 10, 2019 was $80, 000. (Doc. 1-2). The appraisal is
based, inter alia, on the Property's condition, market
conditions, and sale prices of $78, 000, $83, 000, and $95,
000 for comparable properties nearby.
around May 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed her Verified Petition
for Wrongful Foreclosure in state court. Plaintiff asserts
two claims against Defendants: (I) Violation of the Missouri
Merchandising Practices Act (“MMPA”), Mo. Rev.
Stat. § 407.020, based on the false, misleading, and
deceptive statements Nationstar made to Plaintiff; and (2)
Fraudulent Misrepresentation, based on Nationstar's false
statement that “underwriting will put the [foreclosure]
sale on hold while the [mortgage assistance] application is
being considered.” Plaintiff asks the Court to stop the
unlawful detainer action from going forward and to stop the
sale of the Property from Nationstar to Mellon, if it has not
already occurred. Plaintiff also seeks damages in an
unspecified amount, including punitive damages.
21, 2019, Defendants removed this action to this Court based
on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Doc. 1) On July 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant motion
to remand the matter to state court, arguing that no
diversity jurisdiction exists because the amount in
controversy does not exceed $75, 000.
parties invoking federal jurisdiction, Defendants in this
removal case bear the burden of establishing by a
preponderance of the evidence that federal jurisdiction
exists. In re Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d
613, 620 (8th Cir. 2010). All doubts regarding federal
jurisdiction are to be resolved in favor of remand.
Central Iowa Power Co-op. v. Midwest Indep.
Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th
defendant may generally remove “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction . . . to the
district court of the United States for the district and
division embracing the place where such action is
pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332, the district court has original jurisdiction
over an action “where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, ” and the action is between citizens of
different states. § 1332(a). Complete diversity of
citizenship is required by § 1332, and complete
diversity “exists where no defendant holds citizenship
in the same state where any plaintiff holds
citizenship.” One Point Solutions, LLC v.
Borchert, 486 F.3d 342, 346 (8th Cir. 2007).
Additionally, “A civil action otherwise removable
solely on the basis of jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of
this title may not be removed in any of the parties in
interest properly joined and served as defendants is a
citizen of the State in which such action is brought.”
§ 1441(b)(2). “If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c).
instant motion, Plaintiff argues that this Court lacks
jurisdiction, and the case should be remanded, because the
requirements for establishing diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a) are not satisfied. Specifically,
Plaintiff argues that the amount in controversy requirement
is not met, because the amount in controversy in this case is
less than $75, 000. The pleadings establish, and Plaintiff
does not dispute, that the requirement of complete diversity
of citizenship is satisfied.
determining whether Defendants have shown, by a preponderance
of the evidence, that the amount in controversy requirement
is satisfied, the question “is not whether the damages
are greater than the requisite amount, but whether a fact
finder might legally conclude that they are . . .”
Bell v. Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 959 (8th Cir.
2009) (quotation marks omitted; emphasis in original). Where,
as here, the petition does not contain a demand for a
specific monetary amount, the Court must make a factual
inquiry into the amount-in-controversy issue. Hofmann v.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 4:19-CV-423 CDP, 2019 WL
1992630, at *1 (May 6, 2019). See also Hollenbeck v.
Outboard Marine Corp., 201 F.Supp.2d 990, 993 (E.D. Mo.
actions seeking declaratory or injunctive relief, it is well
established that the amount in controversy is measured by the
value of the object of the litigation.” Hunt v.
Wash. State Apple Advert. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 347
(1977); accord James Neff Kramper Family Farm P'ship
v. IBP, Inc.,393 F.3d 828, 833 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Hunt, 432 U.S. at 347). The Eighth Circuit has also held that
the amount in controversy is the value to the plaintiff of
the right that is in issue. See also Useryv.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp.,606 F.3d 1017, 1018 (8th Cir.
2010) (“We have held repeatedly that in a suit for
declaratory or injunctive relief the amount in controversy is
the value to the plaintiff of the right that is in
issue.”). “[T]he amount in controversy is
measured from the perspective of the plaintiff, not of other
interested parties, and by the value of the object of the
litigation, here, the Property. To determine the value of the
Property to the Plaintiff, the Court ‘must determine
what the property interest at issue is worth in the