United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
was employed by defendant through December 15, 2014.
Plaintiff alleges that, beginning in 2010, defendant took
adverse employment actions and discriminated against her
because of her gender. Plaintiff filed Case No. 14-cv-13897
against defendant in 2014 under Title VII. Thereafter,
plaintiff filed this case on June 29, 2016 in Wayne County
Circuit Court. The complaint states three claims under the
Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act: (1) gender discrimination,
(2) retaliation, and (3) hostile work environment -
removed the case to this court on August 3, 2016 on the basis
of diversity jurisdiction. On August 25, 2016, plaintiff
filed a motion to remand for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, alleging that the amount in controversy did not
meet the jurisdictional requirement of $75, 000. The court
held a hearing on this motion on September 27, 2016.
invoke removal jurisdiction, the defendant has the burden of
demonstrating that the court has original subject matter
jurisdiction. Long v. Bando Mfg. of America,
Inc., 201 F.3d 754, 757 (6th Cir. 2000). Where
removal is based on the court's diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), the defendant must prove that
it is "more likely than not, " or by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000.00. Gafford v. Gen. Elec. Co., 997
F.2d 150, 158 (6th Cir. 1993) (overruled on other grounds);
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The determination of the amount
in controversy is made at the time of removal. Ahearn v.
Charter Twp. of Bloomfield, 100 F.3d 451, 453 (6th Cir.
1996); Rogers v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 230 F.3d
868, 871 (6th Cir. 2000). The amount in controversy is viewed
"from the perspective of the plaintiff, with a focus on
the economic value of the rights he seeks to protect."
Williamson v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 481 F.3d 369, 376
(6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Buckeye Recyclers v. CHEP
USA, 228 F.Supp.2d. 818, 821 (S.D. Ohio 2002)).
its burden of proof on the amount in controversy, a defendant
may rely on an estimate of the potential damages from the
allegations within the complaint. McPhail v. Deere &
Co., 529 F.3d 947, 955 (10th Cir. 2008). “Beyond
the complaint itself, other documentation can provide the
basis for determining the amount in controversy - either
interrogatories obtained in state court before removal was
filed, or affidavits or other evidence submitted in federal
court afterward.” Id. at 956. Several circuit
courts have held that “a plaintiff's proposed
settlement amount ‘is relevant evidence of the amount
in controversy if it appears to reflect a reasonable estimate
of the plaintiff's claim.'” Id.
(quoting Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 840
(9th Cir. 2002)). See also Rising-Moore v. Red Roof Inns,
Inc., 435 F.3d 813 (7th Cir. 2006). While the Sixth
Circuit has not addressed this issue, the Eastern District of
Michigan has permitted the use of an email containing
settlement demands to prove the amount in controversy.
Santos-Tiller v. Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp., 2016
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112786 (E.D. Mich., Aug. 24, 2016).
complaint, plaintiff seeks “an amount well in excess of
the jurisdictional amount of $25, 000, plus costs and
interest, including past, current and future damages and wage
loss, 401k loss and other benefits, exemplary damages,
punitive damages, and attorney fees for the illegal acts of
Defendant as stated herein.” The nature of these claims
and losses suggest an amount in controversy over $75, 000.
defendant argues that at the time of removal, it met its
burden to show that it was more likely than not that the
amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000 based on
plaintiff's proposed settlement offer of $180, 000. On
June 21, 2016, plaintiff's attorney emailed
defendant's attorney asking if plaintiff “will
agree to pay the sum of $180, 000.00 to reasonably settle all
claims. . . . If we cannot settle all claims within the next
7 days, my Client has requested I file a complaint in State
Court as to her State claims in order to preserve and move
forward upon those claims.” [Doc. 1-3 at 2].
argues that this settlement offer relates solely to the
pending federal lawsuit and does not encompass the proposed
state law claims. Contrary to plaintiff's argument, it
would defy common sense to conclude that a proposal to settle
“all claims” without any stated limitations would
nevertheless exclude claims set forth in this case. Moreover,
principles of res judicata would preclude pursuit of these
claims following such a settlement.
court finds that defendant's showing of plaintiff's
offer to settle “all claims” for $180, 000
establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant
has satisfied its burden of demonstrating that the ...