Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 1 of 7 PageID 63
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRI
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TE
FORT WORTH DIVISION
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
iSEP 20 2Ot3
CLERK, U.S. DISTRICT COURT
KERRY RANSOME AND SHANELL
PNC BANK, N.A. ,
Now before the court is the amended notice of removal filed
in the above-captioned action by defendant, PNC Bank, N.A.
Defendant has alleged diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C.
1332 as the sole basis for removal. Having considered the
amended notice of removal and the original state court petition
of plaintiffs, Kerry Ransome and Shanell Ransome,
concludes that defendant has failed to sufficiently allege that
this court has sUbject matter jurisdiction, and that the case
should be remanded to the state court
from which it was removed.
Plaintiffs initiated this action by filing their original
petition in the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, 48th
Judicial District, as Cause No. 048-267405-13. Defendant
Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 2 of 7 PageID 64
removed the action to this court.
On September 19, 2013,
to this court's order, defendant filed its amended
notice of removal. Defendant alleges that the court has sUbject
matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 because of complete
diversity of citizenship between plaintiffs and defendant, and an
in controversy exceeding the sum or value of $75,000.00,
exclusive of interest and costs.
In the prayer of their petition, plaintiffs do not state a
specific amount of damages. Nor is there any other statement of
the amount of damages contained elsewhere in the petition.
However, defendant contends that
in the context of foreclosure
the proper measure of the amount
in controversy is
the value of the sUbject property, which defendant asserts is "at
least $121,300.00." Am. Notice of Removal at 4. Defendant
argues that the value of the property satisfies the amount
In support of its position, defendant cites to
legal authority standing for the proposition that the right,
title, and interest plaintiffs have in the property constitutes
the proper measure of the amount
in controversy in an action such
as this one, where a party could be divested of the property
Id. at 2-3.
After having evaluated the amended notice of removal and all
state court documents, and after reviewing applicable legal
Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 3 of 7 PageID 65
the court remains unpersuaded that the amount
controversy in this action meets or exceeds the required amount.
The court begins with a statement of basic principles
announced by the Fifth Circuit:
to 28 U.S.C.
a defendant may remove to
federal court any state court action over which the federal
district court would have original
party bears the burden of showing that federal subject matter
jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper." Manguno v.
Prudential Prop. Cas.
Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723
"Moreover, because the effect of removal is to deprive
the state court of an action properly before it,
significant federalism concerns, which mandate strict
construction of the removal statute." Carpenter v. Wichita Falls
Indep. Sch. Dist., 44 F.3d 362, 365-66 (5th Cir. 1995)
omitted). Any doubts about whether removal
therefore be resolved against
the exercise of federal
jurisdiction. Acuna v. Brown & Root Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th
To determine the amount
in controversy for the purpose of
establishing diversity jurisdiction,
the court ordinarily looks
Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 4 of 7 PageID 66
to the plaintiff's state court petition. Manguno, 276 F.3d at
If it is not facially apparent
from the petition that
in controversy is greater than $75,000,
the removing party
must set forth summary jUdgment-type evidence, either in the
notice of removal or in an affidavit,
showing by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount
in controversy exceeds that
Id.; Allen v. R & H oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335
(5th Cir. 1995).
in controversy is measured from the perspective
of the plaintiff. Vraney v. Cnty. of Pinellas, 250 F.2d 617, 618
(5th Cir. 1958)
In an action for declaratory or
in controversy is the "value of the
object of the litigation," or "the value of the right
protected or the extent of the injury to be prevented."
Leininger v. Leininger, 705 F.2d 727, 729 (5th Cir. 1983).
Plaintiffs' petition does not make a demand for a specific
amount of damages, does not specify a dollar amount of recovery
sought that is at
least $75,000.00, and does not define with
specificity the value of the right it seeks to protect or the.
extent of the injury it seeks to prevent. As a result,
Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 5 of 7 PageID 67
evaluates the true nature of plaintiffs' claims to determine the
amount actually in controversy between the parties.
The true nature of this action is to maintain possession of
residential property plaintiffs used as security for the making
of a loan.
As the petition alleges, plaintiffs pursue this goal
by seeking an order
(1) barring any foreclosure or forcible
detainer proceedings, and (2) awarding unspecified damages and
attorney's fees. Notice of Removal, Ex. A-2 at 14.
considering plaintiffs' original petition,
the court has not been
provided with any information from which it can determine that
the value to plaintiffs of such relief is greater than
Defendant contends that the fair-market value of the
property should serve as the amount
in controversy because
plaintiffs request equitable relief to enjoin defendant
foreclosing on the property.
Am. Notice of Removal at 2-3.
Defendant relies on the oft-cited argument that when equitable
relief is sought,
in controversy is measured by the
value of the object of the litigation, and when a mortgagor is
attempting to protect his property,
the fair market value of the
property is the amount
In its amended notice of
removal, defendant suggests that the value of the property is "at
Id. at 4.
Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 6 of 7 PageID 68
The court is not persuaded by the argument that the above
figure supplies the basis for plaintiffs'
interest in the
property, especially given that plaintiffs have not pleaded how
much equity they have in the property. Defendant does not cite
to, nor can the court discern, any such statement
in the petition
to support a finding that
the value of the property is the amount
for example, defendant's attribution of
the $121,300.00 figure as damages is an act of its own doing--not
To the extent that these statements suggest that
the property value is the proper measure of the amount
controversy in this action,
the court rejects that argument. 1
the sole goal of plaintiffs' action is to avoid or
delay a foreclosure sale and to be able to retain possession of
the property. Nothing is alleged that would assign a monetary
value to plaintiffs' accomplishment of that goal. While
plaintiffs appear to request equitable relief based on a claim
they are entitled to hold legal title in the property,
does not assert that such relief is based on a claim that they
have outright ownership of the property,
free from any
1 The court is familiar with the unpublished Fifth Circuit opinion, Nationstar Mortg. LLC v.
Knox, 351 F. App'x 844 (5th Cir. 2009). The pertinent portion of Nationstar, in turn, relies on Waller v.
Prof1Ins. Corp., 296 F.2d 545,547-48 (5th Cir. 1961). This court has previously explained its reasoning
for finding Waller inapposite to determining the amount in controversy in cases such as the instant
action. See Ballew v. America's Servicing Co., No.4: 11-CV-030-A, 2011 WL 880135 (N.D. Tex. Mar.
Case 4:13-cv-00706-A Document 9 Filed 09/20/13 Page 7 of 7 PageID 69
Indeed, plaintiffs make statements to suggest that
their ownership of the property is encumbered by a debt, as the
petition describes a note and deed of trust, and questions
whether defendant has the authority to act under the deed of
The value to plaintiffs of their right
in the litigation
is, at most,
the value of their interest in the property, not
value of the property itself.
Thus, defendant has not
established the value of plaintiffs'
interest in the property.
Defendant has not proven by a preponderance of the evidence
the amount actually in controversy in this action exceeds
the sum or value of $75,000.00, excluding interest and costs.
the court is remanding the case to the state court
from which it was removed, because of the failure of defendant
persuade the court that sUbject matter jurisdiction exists.
For the reasons given above,
The court ORDERS that the above-captioned action be, and is
remanded to the state court
from which it was removed.
SIGNED September 20, 2013.