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PULLINS v. STIHL

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania


May 20, 2004.

ANTHONY PULLINS
v.
STIHL, INC

The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRUCE KAUFFMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Anthony Pullins commenced this action against Defendant Stihl, Inc. on August 29, 2003 by filing a Civil Complaint in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. On September 23, 2003, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) and 1446 based on diversity jurisdiction. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Remand pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion will be denied.

I. Background

  Plaintiff claims that he was severely injured while using a power saw designed by Defendant. In his state court Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he is a resident of Pennsylvania but is silent as to his state of citizenship. He demands in excess of $50,000 exclusive of interest and costs. Defendant's Notice of Removal states that the parties are citizens of different states and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Defendant avers that it is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business in Virginia. Plaintiff argues that removal was improper because his Complaint does not state either his citizenship or that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. II. Legal Standard

  Under § 1441(a), "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (a). "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions 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 person is a citizen of a state if he is a United States citizen and is domiciled in that state. Avins v. Hannum, 497 F. Supp. 930, 936 (D.C. Pa. 1980). Domicile requires a finding of both residency and an intent to remain indefinitely. Sprague v. American Bar Ass'n, 166 F. Supp.2d 206, 209 (E.D. Pa. 2001); Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298, 1300 (3d Cir. 1972). A corporate entity is a citizen both of the state where it is incorporated and of the state where its principal place of business is located. Sprague, 166 F. Supp.2d at 209.

  The defendant bears the burden of showing that removal is appropriate. See Abels v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 770 F.2d 26, 29 (3d Cir. 1985); Schnable v. Drexel University, Civ. A. No. 95-21, 1995 WL 412415, at *3 (E.D. Pa. 1995). Removal statutes are strictly construed against removal and any doubts must be resolved in favor of remand. Abels, 770 F.2d at 29.

 III. Analysis

  Plaintiff first argues that Defendant has not met its burden of demonstrating that removal is proper because the state court Complaint "confirms only the residency of the plaintiff, as distinguished from the plaintiff's state of citizenship." Motion at ¶ 4. Plaintiff is correct that residency is not synonymous with citizenship. However, the Third Circuit has held that listing a residence creates a rebuttable presumption of domicile. See Krasnov, 465 F.2d at 1300; see also Wright & Miller § 3612. Plaintiff's Complaint states that he resides in Pennsylvania. In his Motion for Remand, Plaintiff does not dispute that he is actually a domiciliary of Pennsylvania. Accordingly, Plaintiff has not rebutted the presumption of domicile and cannot defeat removal on that ground.*fn1

  Plaintiff next argues that Defendant has not demonstrated that the $75,000 jurisdictional prerequisite has been met because "the prayer for relief presented in the Complaint demands judgment in an amount in excess of $50,000."*fn2 Motion at ¶ 5. However, "the amount in controversy is not measured by the low end of an open-ended claim, but rather by a reasonable reading of the value of the rights being litigated." Angus v. Shiley, Inc., 989 F.2d 142, 145 (3d Cir. 1993). A case should be remanded only if it is apparent to a legal certainty that the plaintiff cannot recover the jurisdictional amount. Samuel-Bassett v. KIA Motors America, Inc., 357 F.3d 392, 398 (3d Cir. 2004). In this case, Plaintiff alleges that his left leg was struck by the rotating blade of a power saw, cutting his flesh to the bone. Compl. at ¶ 7. As a result, he suffered "serious and severe" injuries, including "lacerations and tearing of the muscles, tendons, nerves and connective tissues in plaintiff's left leg, permanent scarring of the skin, permanent neurological loss in plaintiff's left ankle and foot, shock and trauma to plaintiff's nervous system, and other injuries." Id. at ¶ 8. On the basis of these claims, the Court cannot conclude to a legal certainty that Plaintiff could not recover in excess of $75,000.*fn3

 IV. Conclusion

  For the foregoing reasons, this Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion for Remand. An appropriate Order follows. ORDER

  AND NOW, this ___ day of May, 2004, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Remand (docket no. 6) and Defendant's response thereto (docket no. 7), it is ORDERED that the Motion is DENIED for the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum.


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