Salton v. Polyock

Decision Date10 February 2011
Docket NumberNo. C10–4113–MWB.,C10–4113–MWB.
Citation764 F.Supp.2d 1033
PartiesRuss SALTON, Plaintiff,v.Troy POLYOCK, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Bradley J. Nelson, Jessica A. Zupp, Norelius & Nelson, P.C., Denison, IA, for Plaintiff.David K. Schaffner, Schaffner Law Offices, Co., L.P.A., New Philadelphia, OH, Patrick L. Sealey, Heidman Law Firm, Sioux City, IA, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

MARK W. BENNETT, District Judge.

The defendant in this lawsuit, which was originally filed in state court, removed the action to federal court on the ground of diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff, however, has moved to remand the action to state court, asserting that his complaint fails to meet the jurisdictional minimum amount in controversy for federal diversity jurisdiction. Therefore, this court must determine whether plaintiff's assertion, that his complaint does not meet the jurisdictional minimum amount in controversy for federal diversity jurisdiction to attach, requires remanding this case to state court.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

On October 11, 2010, plaintiff Russ Salton filed a petition in the Iowa District Court for Crawford County against defendant Troy Polyock. This lawsuit arises from two alleged contracts entered into between Salton and Polyock. In the first contract, an oral agreement between Salton and Polyock in 2007, Salton alleges that he agreed to permit Polyock to “flush” his prize Maine–Anjou cow, Miss Kadabra, twice in return for one-half of the proceeds of the sale of calves born as a result of these flushings.1 Miss Kadabra had an appraised value of $150,000. It is further alleged that, as a result of the manner in which the flushings were performed, Miss Kadabra was injured, eliminating her ability to naturally conceive a calf and reducing her value. The second alleged contract concerned a male offspring of these flushings, Highliner. It is alleged that Salton and Polyock agreed that each would own one-half interest in Highliner and that Polyock would harvest, store, and sell semen from Highliner with the gross proceeds of such sales to be divided equally between Salton and Polyock. Salton alleges that Polyock flushed Miss Kadabra more than twice and has not delivered one-half of the proceeds from the sale of all calves resulting from the flushings of Miss Kadabra. Salton further alleges that Polyock has not delivered one-half of the proceeds of the sale of Highliner's semen.

In Count I of the Petition, Salton alleges that Polyock breached their contract concerning the flushing of Miss Kadabra and Salton has suffered damages. Similarly, in Count II, Salton alleges that Polyock breached their contract concerning Highliner and Salton has suffered damages. In Count III, Salton alleges a claim for conversion arising out of the sale of Miss Kadabra's embryos.2

On November 18, 2010, Polyock removed this action to this federal court on the ground of diversity of citizenship, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). In his notice of removal, Polyock asserts that, based on the allegations in the petition, the amount in controversy “exceeds $75,000.00.” Notice of Removal at ¶ 9. Accordingly, Polyock alleges in his notice of removal that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional requirement established in 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

On December 14, 2010, Salton filed his Resistance to Notice of Removal and Motion To Remand (docket no. 5) in which he seeks a remand of this case to state court, asserting an insufficient amount in controversy. In his motion to remand, Salton contends that Polyock's reliance on Miss Kadabra's appraised pre-contract value of $150,000 is misplaced because he is not seeking “to rescind the contract and be awarded a pre-contract measure of damages for Miss Kadabra's full value.” Plaintiff's Mot. to Remand at ¶ 3. Thus, Salton seeks to have this case remanded to state court for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction, owing to an insufficient amount in controversy. Polyock did not file a timely a response to Salton's motion. The court could, therefore, have granted Salton's motion pursuant to N.D. Iowa LR 7(f), which provides that [i]f no timely resistance to a motion is filed, the motion may be granted without prior notice.” Instead, in the interests of justice, the court, sua sponte, granted Polyock until February 2, 2011, to file his response to Salton's motion. To date, Polyock has filed no response to Salton's motion.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS
A. Standards And Procedures Of Removal Jurisdiction

In McCorkindale v. American Home Assur. Co./A.I.C., 909 F.Supp. 646 (N.D.Iowa 1995), this court summarized the principles applicable to a motion to remand as follows: (1) the party seeking removal and opposing remand bears the burden of establishing federal subject matter jurisdiction; (2) a fundamental principle of removal jurisdiction is that whether subject matter jurisdiction exists is a question answered by looking to the complaint as it existed at the time the petition for removal was filed; (3) lack of subject matter jurisdiction requires remand to the state court under the terms of 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); (4) the court's removal jurisdiction must be strictly construed; therefore, (5) the district court is required to resolve all doubts about federal jurisdiction in favor of remand; and, finally, (6) in general, remand orders issued under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) are not reviewable by appeal or writ of mandamus. McCorkindale, 909 F.Supp. at 650.

In McCorkindale, in addition to the general principles articulated above, this court considered the proper standards for determining the amount in controversy when a state court rule—such as Rule 1.403 of the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure—prohibits the pleading of a specific amount in controversy: Instead of the “legal certainty” test,3 the defendant is required to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount. McCorkindale, 909 F.Supp. at 651–53; see Bell v. Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir.2009) (noting that [w]here the defendant seeks to invoke federal jurisdiction through removal, however, it bears the burden of proving that the jurisdictional threshold is satisfied.”); see also James Neff Kramper Family Farm P'ship, 393 F.3d 828, 831 (8th Cir.2005) (noting that the rule that the party invoking federal jurisdiction must prove the requisite amount by a preponderance of the evidence “applies even in removed cases where the party invoking jurisdiction is the defendant.”); OnePoint Solutions, L.L.C. v. Borchert, 486 F.3d 342, 349 (8th Cir.2007) (noting that the party invoking jurisdiction “has the burden of proving the requisite amount by a preponderance of the evidence.”). This court also outlined the process for determining the amount in controversy in such cases: First, the court must determine whether the complaint is removable on its face; and second, if the complaint is not removable on its face, the court must provide the parties with the opportunity to satisfy the court as to the amount in controversy. McCorkindale, 909 F.Supp. at 653–55.

B. Application Of Standards and Procedures

Turning to the first part of the applicable analysis, the court finds that the face of the complaint in question here provides little, if any, insight into the amount in controversy. Accord McCorkindale, 909 F.Supp. at 655 (because Iowa law forbade pleading any amount in controversy, except an amount in excess of the jurisdictional amount in state court, “the allegations of actual damages on the face of the complaint provide the court with no basis for determining the amount of actual...

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  • Fernandez v. Tyson Foods, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • December 28, 2020
    ...by looking to the complaint as it existed at the time the petition for removal was filed") (quotation omitted); Salton v. Polyock , 764 F.Supp.2d 1033, 1035 (N.D. Iowa 2011) ("[A] fundamental principle of removal jurisdiction is that whether subject matter jurisdiction exists is a question ......
  • Moller v. Tyson Foods, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • September 9, 2014
    ..."amount in controversy," see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the plaintiffs' Motions To Remand To State Court would also fail. In Salton v. Polycock, 764 F. Supp. 2d 1033 (N.D. Iowa 2011), I reiterated the principles applicable to a motion to remand an action removed on the basis of "diversity"jurisdicti......
  • Druivenga v. Hillshire Brands Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • March 1, 2018
    ...(6) in general, remand orders issued under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) are not reviewable by appeal or writ of mandamus.Salton v. Polyock, 764 F. Supp. 2d 1033, 1035 (N.D. Iowa 2011). 7. There is also a statutory exception, in the case of a third-party action against a foreign state, see 28 U.S.C. ......
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    ...(6) in general, remand orders issued under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) are not reviewable by appeal or writ of mandamus.Salton v. Polyock, 764 F. Supp. 2d 1033, 1035 (N.D. Iowa 2011); see also Bell v. Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir. 2009) (noting that "[w]here the defendant seeks to invoke......
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