United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN R. CLARK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand . Defendant Lowe's Home Centers, LLC opposes
the Motion . For the reasons set forth below, the Court
grants the Motion to Remand.
Patrick Baughman, Jr., pro se, originally filed this
action in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis,
Missouri on September 13, 2018. Defendant Lowe's was
served on April 25, 2019. On May 21, 2019, Lowe's removed
the case to this Court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. Doc. 1. Plaintiff filed the present Motion for
Remand on June 28, 2019, arguing that diversity jurisdiction
was inappropriate because Plaintiff's claims for damages
did not meet or exceed the jurisdictional threshold of $75,
000. Doc. 9. On November 13, 2019, Plaintiff filed his First
Amended Complaint. Doc. 19. On November 27, 2019, Defendants
filed an Amended Notice of Removal. Doc. 21. The Amended
Notice of Removal asserts that this Court has jurisdiction
because the Amended Complaint raises a federal question.
Id. at pg. 3.
defendant may remove to federal court any state court civil
action over which the federal court could exercise original
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal district
courts have jurisdiction over “all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. “[T]he
question whether a claim ‘arises under' federal law
must be determined by reference to the ‘well-pleaded
complaint.'” Great Lakes Gas Transmission Ltd.
P'ship v. Essar Steel Minn. LLC, 843 F.3d 325, 329
(8th Cir. 2016) (quoting Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v.
Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986)). The well-pleaded
complaint rule “provides that federal jurisdiction
exists only when a federal question is presented on the face
of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
[removing] defendant bears the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.”
In re Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 620
(8th Cir. 2010). The federal court must remand the case to
state court if it appears the federal court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction. Id.; 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
“All doubts about federal jurisdiction should be
resolved in favor of remand to state court.” In re
Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d at 620.
Motion for Remand argues that Defendant has failed to
establish diversity jurisdiction because “the amount in
controversy has not been established from the evidence to
exceed $75, 000.” Doc. 9, pg. 2.
28 U.S.C. § 1332, federal district courts have original
jurisdiction “where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and is between citizens of different states.” 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). When evaluating whether the amount
in controversy requirement is met, the Court must look to the
amount in controversy at the time of removal. Hatridge v.
Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 415 F.2d 809, 814 (8th Cir.
1969) (“It is the situation at the time of removal
which is determinative.”). “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
original complaint, operative at the time of removal, did not
allege a specific amount in damages. Where the complaint
alleges no specific amount of damages, the removing party
must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000. In re Minnesota Mut.
Life Ins. Co. Sales Practices Litig., 346 F.3d 830, 834
(8th Cir. 2003). “Under the preponderance standard,
‘[t]he jurisdictional fact ... 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) (quoting Kopp v. Kopp, 280
F.3d 883, 884 (8th Cir. 2002)).
careful review of Plaintiff's original complaint, Doc. 3,
and Lowe's Notice of Removal, Doc. 1, the Court finds
that Lowe's has failed to prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Plaintiff alleges that, on or about November 11, 2017,
Lowe's employee (and St. Louis Police detective) Francis
Koziacki assaulted him at a Lowe's Home Improvement
Store. Doc. 3, pg. 3. Plaintiff alleges that Koziacki pushed
him from behind into a concrete wall and grabbed his arm
“and attempted to break it.” Id. at pg.
4. Plaintiff further alleges that Koziacki “choked
[him] by grabbing [his] neck.” Id.
opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand, Lowe's
argues that these allegations establish an amount in
controversy over $75, 000 “in light of the intentional
tort allegations and alleged injuries of the head, neck, and
arm.” Doc. 1, pg. 4. Lowe's cites no authority-and
the Court is aware of none-for the proposition that merely
alleging an intentional tort is sufficient to meet the $75,
000 amount-in-controversy threshold.
cites several cases in which district courts denied remand
because the plaintiff alleged significant physical injuries.
See McLauchlin v. Sight, No. 4:16-cv-0542-DGK, 2016
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99983, at *5 (W.D. Mo. Aug. 1, 2016)
(“Petition alleged the accident hurt Plaintiff's
‘head, left knee, left leg, and body'”);
Carville v. Sheraton Corp., No. 4:08-cv-01567-FRB,
2009 WL 1393872, at *6 (E.D. Mo. May 15, 2009) (plaintiff
alleged many soft-tissue injuries); Ward v. Sailormen,
Inc., 2007 WL 1040934, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 3, 2007)
(plaintiff alleged injuries to head, neck, back, arms, and
buttocks as a result of a fall); O'Keefe v. Midwest
Transit, Inc., No. 06-CV-1066-DDN (E.D. Mo. Sept. 18,
2006) (plaintiff alleged serious injuries to head, neck, left
shoulder, arm, and hand); Quinn v. Kimble, 228
F.Supp.2d 1038, 1041 (E.D. Mo. 2002) (plaintiffs suffered
head, neck, and back injuries). The Court finds these cases
distinguishable because Plaintiff does not specifically
allege any injuries in the present case. The
complaint describes what Koziacki allegedly
attempted to do, but there is no allegation of
actual injury sustained by ...