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.

Robertson v. Asplundh Tree Expert Co.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

September 15, 2017

CHRISTOPHER ROBERTSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ASPLUNDH TREE EXPERT CO., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DANIEL D. CRABTREE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on two motions: plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 8) and defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal and Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Answer (Doc. 7). For reasons explains below, the court denies plaintiff's Motion to Remand because diversity jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The court also grants defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal and Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Answer. The court dismisses plaintiff's breach of contract claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because it fails to state a claim for relief. The court also grants defendant an extension of time until September 29, 2017, to file an Answer to plaintiff's Complaint. The court explains these rulings in greater detail, below.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The following facts come from the Petition that plaintiff filed in the District Court of Johnson County, Kansas (Doc. 1-2) or defendant's Notice of Removal (Doc. 1). Plaintiff Christopher Robertson began working for defendant in June 2014. On December 16, 2014, plaintiff sprained his ankle while at work. Also, at an unidentified time, but while working for defendant, plaintiff strained his rotator cuff. Plaintiff reported his on-the-job injuries to his superiors. Plaintiff also sought medical treatment for his injuries, and he collected workers compensation benefits. On May 6, 2015, defendant terminated plaintiff's employment.

         On May 6, 2017, plaintiff filed a Petition in the District Court of Johnson County, Kansas. The Petition asserts two claims: (1) workers compensation retaliation, and (2) breach of contract. On June 22, 2017, defendant removed the action to our court asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is a Kansas resident. Doc. 1-2 ¶ 1. Defendant is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Id. ¶ 2; Doc. 1 ¶ 3. Plaintiff's Petition seeks a judgment against defendant “in excess of $25, 000.00, but not to exceed $75, 000.00, for back pay, including wage increases and reimbursement of any lost fringe benefits, retirement plan benefits, pension benefits, Social Security contributions, for an award of front pay, emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, for punitive damages, for pre-judgment interest, for costs and for such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and equitable.” Doc. 1-2 at 5.

         After removing the case, defendant filed a Motion for Partial Dismissal and Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Answer. Doc. 7. Defendant's motion asks the court to dismiss plaintiff's breach of contract claim under Rule 12(b)(6) because it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendant's motion also seeks an extension of time to file its Answer. Specifically, defendant requests a deadline coming 14 days of the court's ruling on its Motion for Partial Dismissal.

         On July 24, 2017, plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand, asking the court to remand the case to the District Court of Johnson County, Kansas. The court first considers plaintiff's Motion to Remand, below. Because the court concludes that diversity jurisdiction exists, the court denies plaintiff's Motion to Remand. The court next addresses defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal of one of plaintiff's two claims-the breach of contract claim. For reasons explained below, the court grants defendant's motion.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion to Remand

         A. Legal Standard

         “‘Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; they must have a statutory basis for their jurisdiction.'” Dutcher v. Matheson, 733 F.3d 980, 984 (10th Cir. 2013) (quoting Rural Water Dist. No. 2 v. City of Glenpool, 698 F.3d 1270, 1274 (10th Cir. 2012)). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove to federal court “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see also Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (explaining that “[o]nly state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by the defendant”). “‘This jurisdictional prerequisite to removal is an absolute, non-waivable requirement.'” Hunt v. Lamb, 427 F.3d 725, 726 (10th Cir. 2005) (quoting Brown v. Francis, 75 F.3d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1996)).

         Two federal statutes confer subject matter jurisdiction on federal district courts: federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. For a federal court to have federal question jurisdiction over a lawsuit, its plaintiff must assert a “civil action[ ] arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. For a federal court to have diversity jurisdiction, the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000, and complete diversity of citizenship must exist between all plaintiffs and all defendants. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

         B. Analysis

         Defendant asserts that diversity jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because: (1) the parties are diverse, and (2) the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Plaintiff does not dispute the first requirement because, as he concedes, plaintiff is a Kansas citizen, and defendant is a Pennsylvania citizen.[1] So, complete diversity of citizenship exists.

         But, plaintiff asserts that defendant cannot establish the second requirement because the amount in controversy does not exceed the $75, 000 jurisdictional requisite. “‘[R]emoval . . . is proper on the basis of an amount in controversy asserted' by a defendant ‘if the district court finds, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds' the jurisdictional threshold.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 553-54 (2014) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(B)). The Tenth Circuit has explained that “the term ‘in controversy' has never required a party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction to show that damages ‘are greater' or will likely prove greater ‘than the requisite amount' specified by statute.” Hammond v. Stamps.com, Inc., 844 F.3d 909, 911-12 (10th Cir. 2016) (quoting Hartis v. Chi. Title Ins. Co., 694 F.3d 935, 944 (8th Cir. 2012)). Instead, “a party seeking [to establish] federal jurisdiction [must] show only and much more modestly that ‘a fact finder might legally conclude' that damages exceed the statutory amount.” Id. at 912 (quoting Hartis, 694 F.3d at 944). Before ...


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.