United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. CRABTREE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
Factual and Procedural Background
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.
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.
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.
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
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
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)).
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).
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. So, complete diversity of citizenship
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 ...