United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Barry Fischer U.S. District Judge
before the Court is a Motion for Reconsideration filed by
Defendant Washington Trotting Association, LLC, (Docket No.
), Defendant's Brief in Support, (Docket No. ),
and Plaintiff Timothy Miller's response thereto, (Docket
No. ). Defendant seeks reconsideration of this
Court's Order of March 14, 2017, remanding this matter,
sua sponte, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) based on the
jurisdictionally defective Notice of Removal filed in this
case. (Docket No. 16). After careful consideration of the
parties' positions and for the following reasons,
Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration  is denied.
is a Pennsylvania citizen and works as a table games dealer
at the Meadows Racetrack & Casino, located in Washington
County, Pennsylvania. (Docket No. 1-1). The Meadows
previously operated as an incorporated business, Washington
Trotting Association, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its
principal place of business in Pennsylvania. (Id.).
The Meadows was sold in the fall of the 2016 to Pinnacle
Entertainment, Inc. and the incorporated business was
converted to Washington Trotting Association, LLC.
(Id.). The ultimate parent company of Washington
Trotting Association, LLC, is now Pinnacle Entertainment,
Inc. which is a Delaware corporation with its principal place
of business in Nevada. (Docket Nos. 1-3; 6).
lawsuit, Miller complains that the Meadows adopted a policy
whereby he and other dealers were required to share tips with
supervisors. (See Amended Complaint, Docket No. 1-1
at 27-47). Miller believes that this policy is contrary to
regulations governing casinos in the Commonwealth.
(Id. at ¶ 9). He alleges that he and the other
table games dealers working at the Meadows were not paid the
full percentage of tips that were owed to them because the
tip pools were diluted by the presence of the supervisors.
(Id.). Miller seeks to bring claims on his own
behalf and for those individuals similarly situated to him
pursuant to the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law;
breach of contract; and/or breach of implied contract.
(Id.). Miller generally claims damages for himself
and the other class members for unpaid wages; liquidated
damages in an amount of 25% of those wages; interest; and
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. (Id. at
initially filed a Complaint in Civil Class Action in the
Court of Common Pleas of Washington County on December 27,
2016, naming Washington Trotting Association, Inc.;
Washington Trotting Association, LLC; and Cannery Casino
Resorts, LLC as Defendants. (Docket No. 1-1 at 5). In this
Complaint, Plaintiff specifically noted that Washington
Trotting Association, Inc. was converted to Washington
Trotting Association, LLC in the fall of 2016. (Id.
at ¶¶ 15-16). Counsel for the parties then entered
into a Praecipe to Amend Complaint dated January 23, 2017
authorizing the filing of an Amended Complaint substituting
“Washington Trotting Association LLC d/b/a The Meadows
Racetrack and Casino for the Defendants named in
Plaintiff's Complaint which was filed on December 27,
2016.” (Docket No. 1-1 at 25). Plaintiff filed the
Amended Class Action Complaint on January 27, 2017, setting
forth the causes of action noted above. (Docket No. 1-1 at
Defendant removed the case to this Court on February 21, 2017
“in accordance with the applicable Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and Title 28 of the United States Code
§§ 1332, 1441, and 1446.” (Docket No. 1). The
Notice of Removal made no mention of the class action claims,
arguing that subject matter jurisdiction was premised on
diversity of the parties based on their citizenship and that
the amount in controversy was in excess of $75, 000.00 due to
an alleged admission in the Amended Complaint that the case
sought damages in excess of the arbitration limits and that
the attorneys' fees requested by plaintiff would exceed
the jurisdictional amount. (Id.). Defendant filed
its Answer on February 23, 2017. (Docket No. 5). The Court
set the matter for a case management conference on March 16,
2017. (Docket No. 7). In advance of same, the parties filed a
Rule 26(f) Report and Stipulation Selecting ADR Process.
(Docket Nos. 11; 15). The Rule 26(f) Report specifically
noted that Plaintiff was “contemplating filing a Motion
to Remand to remand this case to state court” and that
he would “do so on or before March 23, 2017.”
(Docket No. 11 at ¶ 5).
preparation for the case management conference, the Court
reviewed the file, determined that it lacked subject matter
jurisdiction over the case and entered an order remanding the
case on March 14, 2017 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)
and cancelling the case management conference. (Docket No.
16). On the next day, Defendant filed a motion for
reconsideration and supporting brief, (Docket Nos. 17, 18),
to which Plaintiff filed a response on March 22, 2017,
(Docket No. 20). As the motion is fully briefed, it is now
ripe for disposition.
for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure are granted sparingly ‘[b]ecause
federal courts have a strong interest in finality of
judgments.'” Jacobs v. Bayha, 2011 WL
1044638, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 18, 2011) (quoting
Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc.,
884 F.Supp. 938, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995)) (emphasis added).
“Because of the interest in finality, at least at the
district court level ... the parties are not free to
relitigate issues the court has already decided, ”
Williams v. City of Pittsburgh, 32 F.Supp.2d 236,
238 (W.D. Pa. 1998) (citing Rottmund v. Continental
Assurance Co., 813 F.Supp. 1104, 1107 (E.D. Pa. 1992)),
or to raise arguments that a party had the opportunity to
present before the Court's decision, see United
States v. Dupree, 617 F.3d 724, 732-33 (3d Cir. 2010)
(quotations omitted). Rather, the purpose of a motion for
reconsideration “is to correct manifest errors of law
or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.'”
Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d
669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Harsco Corp. v.
Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)). The moving
party bears a heavy burden to demonstrate that an order
should be reconsidered and the Court will only grant such a
motion if the moving party shows: (1) an intervening change
in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence
which was not available when the court issued its order; or
(3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to
prevent a manifest injustice. Max's Seafood
CafÃ©, 176 F.3d at 677 (citing North River Ins. Co.
v. Cigna Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir.
Defendant does not point to an intervening change in the
controlling law or the availability of new evidence which was
not available when the Court issued its Order. (Docket No.
18). Instead, Defendant claims that the Court erred as a
matter of law in remanding the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(c) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
(Id.). Defendant concedes that although this is a
class action, it is not seeking to invoke the Court's
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), or the Class
Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) and that the Court
would not have jurisdiction under that statute.
(Id.). Defendant further asserts that it has pled
sufficient facts to demonstrate that this Court has diversity
jurisdiction over the claims of the lead Plaintiff, Timothy
Miller, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), estimating that
the attorney's fees that may be recoverable in this
action will likely exceed the jurisdictional amount of $75,
000.00 and that the named parties are completely diverse,
i.e., Miller is a Pennsylvania citizen while Washington
Trotting Association, LLC, is a citizen of Delaware and
Nevada, based on the citizenship of its ultimate parent
company. (Id.). In response, Plaintiff agrees that
the Court should consider whether the assertion of subject
matter jurisdiction over this matter is appropriate under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Docket No. 20). Plaintiff admits that
if the full amount of potential attorneys' fees are
considered then the individual claims by the lead plaintiff
are likely in excess of the jurisdictional amount of $75,
000.00; however, Plaintiff concedes that he and his counsel
have not researched whether the entire amount of
attorneys' fees recoverable in this class action may be
aggregated and considered by the Court in reaching the
jurisdictional amount. (Id.). Finally, Plaintiff
suggests that if the Court finds that it has subject matter
jurisdiction over the individual claims, then the Court
should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the class
action claims of the unnamed class members under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367. (Id.).
well established that federal courts are of limited
jurisdiction and “the party asserting federal
jurisdiction in a removal case bears the burden of showing,
at all stages of the litigation, that the case is properly
before the federal court.” Frederico v. Home
Depot,507 F.3d 188, 193 (3d Cir. 2007) (citations
omitted). Relevant here, the general removal statute, 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a), provides that “[e]xcept as
otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, 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.” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). “A District Court has subject matter
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 if the
matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the parties are
‘citizens of different States.'”
O'Connell v. New Jersey Tpk. Auth., 649
F.App'x 280, 283 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1)). “For a removal predicated upon diversity
of citizenship, a proper exercise of federal jurisdiction
requires satisfaction ...