Bits & Pieces

Peters v. Liberty Bell Moving Group


2019 WL 3310084

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division.
Kendall PETERS and Sharon Dannen-Peters, Plaintiffs,
LIBERTY BELL MOVING GROUP and Direct Van Line Services, Inc., Defendants.
CASE NO. 1:19-CV-182-WKW
Signed 07/23/2019
Attorneys and Law Firms
Joseph Earl Sawyer, Jr., J.E. Sawyer, Jr., Attorney at Law, Enterprise, AL, for Plaintiffs.
Chad Christopher Marchand, Wilbur Pemble DeLashmet, DeLashmet & Marchand, P.C., Mobile, AL, for Defendants.

*1 Before the court is Plaintiffs’ motion to remand. (Doc. # 6.) Plaintiffs argue that this action should be remanded to state court because this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons below, the motion is due to be denied.

In March 2018, Plaintiffs contracted with Defendants Liberty Bell Moving Group and Direct Van Lines to move Plaintiffs’ belongings from Fairfax, Virginia, to Coffee County, Alabama. Plaintiffs claim damages of $35,000 for property lost and damaged during the move. Plaintiffs initially filed this action on February 5, 2019, in the Circuit Court of Coffee County, Alabama.

Defendants removed the case to this court on March 13, 2019. (Doc. # 1.) On April 11, 2019, Plaintiffs moved to remand, claiming that the removal was improper because Plaintiffs’ claim neither exceeds the $75,000 required for diversity jurisdiction nor arises under a federal law. (Doc. # 6.) On April 26, 2019, Defendants filed a response to the motion to remand, arguing that “the Carmack Amendment preempts Plaintiffs’ state law claims and provide[s] a proper basis for removing this matter to federal court.” (Doc. # 12.)

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994). Accordingly, they only have the power to hear cases over which the Constitution or Congress has given them authority. See Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Congress has empowered federal courts to hear cases removed by a defendant from state to federal court if the plaintiff could have brought the claims in federal court originally. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Federal courts may exercise diversity jurisdiction over civil actions where the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the action is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). For a claim to arise under federal law, the allegations in the plaintiffs’ complaint must establish that “federal law creates the cause of action asserted” or that the plaintiffs’ right to relief necessarily depends upon the resolution of a substantial question of federal law. Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 257 (2013). If “a federal court determines that it is without subject matter jurisdiction, [it] is powerless to continue” over a removed case and must remand the action to state court. Univ. of S. Alabama v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999); see 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

The removing defendant bears the burden of establishing that the federal court has jurisdiction. See Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1502, 1505 (11th Cir. 1996). And although the Eleventh Circuit favors remand where federal jurisdiction is not absolutely clear, see Burns, 31 F.3d at 1095, “federal courts have a strict duty to exercise the jurisdiction that is conferred upon them by Congress.” Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716 (1996).

*2 Plaintiffs’ state law claim for breach of contract is completely preempted by the Carmack Amendment. 49 U.S.C. § 14706. The Carmack Amendment creates a uniform rule for carrier liability when goods are shipped in interstate commerce. Smith v. UPS, 296 F.3d 1244, 1246 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing N.Y., New Haven, & Hartford R.R. Co. v. Nothnagle, 346 U.S. 128, 131 (1953)). Plaintiffs argue that there is no federal jurisdiction over this action because of the “well-pleaded complaint rule, which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is present on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” (Doc. # 7, at 2.) But another judge on this court has ruled that the Carmack Amendment, through the “complete pre-emption doctrine,” provides federal question jurisdiction over a state law claim for loss and damage caused by an out-of-state moving company:
Defendants failed to deliver some of [the plaintiff’s] household items and … of those items that were delivered, some were damaged, with an ad damnum of more than $10,000. These alleged failures by the Defendants in transporting the household items from [another state] to Alabama relate to loss or damages to goods arising from the interstate transportation of those goods by a common carrier. Because Congress intended the Carmack Amendment to act as the exclusive cause of action for such claims, [the plaintiff’s] claim is completely preempted by the Carmack Amendment. Thus, this court has federal-question jurisdiction, and the case was properly removed to this court.
Morris v. Mayflower Transit, LLC, 18 F. Supp. 3d 1342, 1345 (M.D. Ala. 2014) (cleaned up). Although the Eleventh Circuit has not applied the Carmack Amendment to the precise type of claim in this action, Morris thoroughly analyzes relevant Supreme Court precedent and correctly applies the analyses of the Fifth and Ninth Circuits. See id. (citing Hoskins v. Bekins Van Lines, 343 F.3d 769, 771 (5th Cir. 2003); Hall v. N. Am. Van Lines, Inc., 476 F.3d 683, 688-89 (9th Cir. 2007)). Here, as in Morris, the amount in controversy exceeds the $10,000 jurisdictional requirement in Carmack Amendment cases. See 28 U.S.C. § 1445(b). Therefore, the Carmack Amendment applies to this action.

For the reasons above, it is ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ motion to remand (Doc. # 6) is DENIED. It is further ORDERED that Plaintiffs shall file a response to Defendant Liberty Bell Moving Group’s motion to dismiss (Doc. # 2) on or before July 31, 2019.

DONE this 23rd day of July, 2019.

A copy of this checklist is available at the website for the USCA, 11th Circuit at Effective on December 1, 2013, the fee to file an appeal is $505.00

1. Appealable Orders: Courts of Appeals have jurisdiction conferred and strictly limited by statute:
(a) Appeals from final orders pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291: Final orders and judgments of district courts, or final orders of bankruptcy courts which have been appealed to and fully resolved by a district court under 28 U.S.C. § 158, generally are appealable. A final decision is one that “ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment.” Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Mestre, 701 F.2d 1365, 1368 (11th Cir. 1983) (citing Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233, 65 S.Ct. 631, 633, 89 L.Ed. 911 (1945)). A magistrate judge’s report and recommendation is not final and appealable until judgment thereon is entered by a district court judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Perez-Priego v. Alachua County Clerk of Court, 148 F.3d 1272 (11th Cir. 1998). However, under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(3), the Courts of Appeals have jurisdiction over an appeal from a final judgment entered by a magistrate judge, but only if the parties consented to the magistrate’s jurisdiction. McNab v. J & J Marine, Inc., 240 F.3d 1326, 1327-28 (11th Cir. 2001).
*3 (b) In cases involving multiple parties or multiple claims, a judgment as to fewer than all parties or all claims is not a final, appealable decision unless the district court has certified the judgment for immediate review under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Williams v. Bishop, 732 F.2d 885, 885-86 (11th Cir. 1984). A judgment which resolves all issues except matters, such as attorneys’ fees and costs, that are collateral to the merits, is immediately appealable. Budinich v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 486 U.S. 196, 201, 108 S.Ct. 1717, 1721-22, 100 L.Ed.2d 178 (1988); LaChance v. Duffy’s Draft House, Inc., 146 F.3d 832, 837 (11th Cir. 1998).
(c) Appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a): Under this section, appeals are permitted from the following types of orders:
i. Orders granting, continuing, modifying, refusing or dissolving injunctions, or refusing to dissolve or modify injunctions; However, interlocutory appeals from orders denying temporary restraining orders are not permitted. McDougald v. Jenson, 786 F.2d 1465, 1472-73 (11th Cir. 1986);
ii. Orders appointing receivers or refusing to wind up receiverships; and
iii. Orders determining the rights and liabilities of parties in admiralty cases.
(d) Appeals pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) and Fed.R.App.P. 5: The certification specified in 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) must be obtained before a petition for permission to appeal is filed in the Court of Appeals. The district court’s denial of a motion for certification is not itself appealable.
(e) Appeals pursuant to judicially created exceptions to the finality rule: Limited exceptions are discussed in cases including, but not limited to: Cohen v. Beneficial Indus. Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 546, 69 S.Ct. 1221, 1225-26, 93 L.Ed. 1528 (1949); Atlantic Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n v. Blythe Eastman Paine Webber, Inc., 890 F.2d 371, 376 (11th Cir. 1989); Gillespie v. United States Steel Corp., 379 U.S. 148, 157, 85 S.Ct. 308, 312, 13 L.Ed.2d 199 (1964).
2. Time for Filing: The timely filing of a notice of appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional. Rinaldo v. Corbett, 256 F.3d 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001). In civil cases, Fed.R.App.P. 4(a) and (c) set the following time limits:
(a) Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(1): A notice of appeal in compliance with the requirements set forth in Fed.R.App.P. 3 must be filed in the district court within 30 days after the order or judgment appealed from is entered. However, if the United States or an officer or agency thereof is a party, the notice of appeal must be filed in the district court within 60 days after such entry. THE NOTICE MUST BE RECEIVED AND FILED IN THE DISTRICT COURT NO LATER THAN THE LAST DAY OF THE APPEAL PERIOD – no additional days are provided for mailing. Special filing provisions for inmates are discussed below.
(b) Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(3): “If one party timely files a notice of appeal, any other party may file a notice of appeal within 14 days after the date when the first notice was filed, or within the time otherwise prescribed by this Rule 4(a), whichever period ends later.”
(c) Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(4): If any party makes a timely motion in the district court under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure of a type specified in this rule, the time for appeal for all parties runs from the date of entry of the order disposing of the last such timely filed motion.
(d) Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(5) and 4(a)(6): Under certain limited circumstances, the district court may extend or reopen the time to file a notice of appeal. Under Rule 4(a)(5), the time may be extended if a motion for an extension is filed within 30 days after expiration of the time otherwise provided to file a notice of appeal, upon a showing of excusable neglect or good cause. Under Rule 4(a)(6), the time to file an appeal may be reopened if the district court finds, upon motion, that the following conditions are satisfied: the moving party did not receive notice of the entry of the judgment or order within 21 days after entry; the motion is filed within 180 days after the judgment or order is entered or within 14 days after the moving party receives notice, whichever is earlier; and no party would be prejudiced by the reopening.
*4 (e) Fed.R.App.P. 4(c): If an inmate confined to an institution files a notice of appeal in either a civil case or a criminal case, the notice of appeal is timely if it is deposited in the institution’s internal mail system on or before the last day for filing. Timely filing may be shown by a declaration in compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1746 or a notarized statement, either of which must set forth the date of deposit and state that first-class postage has been prepaid.
3. Format of the notice of appeal: Form 1, Appendix of Forms to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, is a suitable format. See also Fed.R.App.P. 3(c). A pro se notice of appeal must be signed by the appellant.
4. Effect of a notice of appeal: A district court lacks jurisdiction, i.e., authority, to act after the filing of a timely notice of appeal, except for actions in aid of appellate jurisdiction or to rule on a timely motion of the type specified in Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(4).
All Citations
Slip Copy, 2019 WL 3310084

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