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Armstead v. Karteron

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

November 3, 2014

CHARLES ARMSTEAD, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
RENE PAUL KARTERON and SCHNEIDER NATIONAL CARRIERS, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Charles Armstead, Jr. and Lavette Butler's Motion (Doc. 8) for Remand; Plaintiff Charles Armstead, Jr.'s Supplemental Motion (Doc. 29) for Remand; Plaintiff Charles Armstead, Jr.'s Motion (Doc. 31) for Oral Argument on Plaintiff's Motion for Remand; and Plaintiff Charles Armstead, Jr.'s Motion (Doc. 32) for Voluntary Dismissal. The Defendants, Rene Paul Karteron and Schneider National Carriers, Inc., have responded to Plaintiff's Motion for Remand (Doc. 12) and Plaintiff's Supplemental Motion for Remand (Doc. 30). Defendants have not filed a response to Plaintiff's Motion for Voluntary Dismissal and the 30 day period for a response has expired.

I: Background

Plaintiffs Charles Armstead, Jr. and Lavette Butler filed this suit on November 27th, 2013, in the Circuit Court for the Third Judicial Circuit in Madison County, Illinois. The Complaint alleges that the defendants, Rene Paul Karteron and Schneider National Carriers, Inc., were negligence in allegedly causing a motor vehicle accident that occurred on June 1, 2013, in Granite City, Illinois.

The plaintiffs, Charles Armstead, Jr. and Lavette Butler, are residents of Alton, Illinois. The defendant, Rene Paul Karteron, is a resident of California and defendant, Schneider National Carriers, Inc., is incorporated under the laws of Nevada and has its principal place of business in Wisconsin. There is no dispute on diversity.

The Affidavit attached to the Complaint at the time of filing states that, "... the value of the case as to the Plaintiff, CHARLES ARMSTEAD, JR., is in excess of $50, 000, but less than $75, 000; and as to the Plaintiff, LAVETTE BUTLER, is in excess of $50, 000." (Doc. 2, Exhibit A).

Based upon diversity and the amount in controversy, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal (Doc.2) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446 on January 8, 2014. The Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Remand (Doc. 8) on January 28, 2014, and the Court notes that the Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand was filed within the 30 days required by 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

On June 4th, 2014, Plaintiff Lavette Butler filed a Motion for Voluntary Dismissal on the basis that discovery had disclosed she had a cause of action against plaintiff, Charles Armstead, Jr. and that she intended to file an Amended Complaint which, "... in turn will destroy diversity since both Lavette Butler and Charles Armstead, Jr. are residents of the State of Illinois." (Doc. 23). Plaintiff Lavette Butler's Motion for Voluntary Dismissal was granted on July 11, 2014, (Doc. 27) and her claims against the defendants were dismissed without prejudice.

Plaintiff Charles Armstead, Jr.'s Supplemental Motion and Memorandum of Law for Remand (Doc. 29) requests remand arguing that the value of his case, with Lavette Butler no longer a plaintiff, is less than the statutory requirements for this suit to remain in federal court. The Plaintiffs' Charles Armstead, Jr. and Lavette Butler Motion and Memorandum of Law for Remand (Doc. 8) also brings forth the argument that this matter should be remanded based upon the Colorado River Doctrine.

Finally, Plaintiff Charles Armstead, Jr. filed a Motion for Voluntary Dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) stating that this matter should be dismissed and refiled on the arbitration docket in Madison County, the place of the accident and the most convenient forum.

II: Discussion

A. Amount in Controversy

Post-removal events to reduce the amount in controversy do not negate the establishment of a jurisdictionally sufficient amount at the time of removal. St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289-90 (1938); Rising-Moore v. Red Roof Inns, Inc., 435 F.3d 813, 816 (7th Cir. 2006). Thus, even if the plaintiff makes an irrevocable promise after the case is removed not to accept more than the jurisdictional minimum, the Court would not be justified in remanding the case if federal jurisdiction existed at the time of removal. St. Paul, 303 U.S. at 292-93; Rising-Moore, 435 F.3d at 816; In re Shell Oil Co., 970 F.2d 355, 356 (7th Cir. 1992) ( per curiam ). He may, however, prevent removal by filing a binding stipulation or affidavit prior to removal, Back Doctors Ltd. v. Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 637 F.3d 827, 831 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 511 (7th Cir. 2006); Shell, 970 F.2d at 356).

The Affidavit attached to the Complaint filed in State Court states in part, "... the value of the foregoing case as to the Plaintiff, Charles Armstead, Jr., is in excess of $50, 000, but less than $75, 000;..." In the Counts involving Plaintiff Charles Armstead Jr., the prayers for ...


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