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Wolfe FA, LLC v. Bula Defense Systems, Inc., LLC

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

August 12, 2019

WOLFE FA, LLC, a North Carolina, Limited Liability Company, M14 PARTS AND ARMORY, LLC, a North Carolina Limited Liability Company, and WOLFE PRECISION MANUFACTURING, LLC, a North Carolina Limited Liability Company, Plaintiffs,
v.
BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, INC., LLC, an Ohio Limited Liability Company, d/b/a BULA INC., BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, and BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, INC.; BDSI, Inc., an Ohio Corporation d/b/a BULA, INC., BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, and BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, INC.; BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, INC.; BULA FORGE & MACHINE, INC., an Ohio Corporation d/b/a BULA, INC., BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, and BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, INC., and; N. JEFF MILLER, d/b/a BDS, INC., and d/b/a BULA DEFENSE SYSTEMS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          MARTIN REIDINGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. [Doc. 9]. The Defendants oppose the Plaintiffs' Motion. [Doc. 14].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 15, 2018, Wolfe F.A., LLC; M14 Parts and Armory, LLC; and Wolfe Precision Manufacturing, LLC (collectively “Plaintiffs”), filed this action in the Superior Court for Polk County against Bula Defense Systems, Inc., LLC; BDSI, Inc.; Bula Defense Systems, Inc.; Bula Forge & Machine, Inc.; and N. Jeff Miller (collectively “Defendants”). [Doc. 1 at 8]. The Plaintiffs' Complaint requests monetary damages in excess of $25, 000, punitive damages in excess of $25, 000, and a declaratory judgment against the Defendants. [See id.].

         On April 12, 2019, the Defendants filed a Notice of Removal based on federal diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). [Id.]. According to the Defendants, federal diversity jurisdiction exists here because “complete diversity exists between all parties and the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs.” [Id. at ¶ 3].

         On May 12, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand arguing several grounds for remanding the case. [Doc. 9]. First, the Plaintiffs argue that the Defendants did not comply with 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) because they failed to file their Notice of Removal within thirty days after service of the Complaint. [Id. at ¶ 3].[1] Second, they argue that the Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of “proving the $75, 000 amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction.” [Id.]. Finally, the Plaintiffs claim that the Defendants waived any right of removal by demonstrating a “‘clear and unequivocal intent' to remain in state court.” [Id. at ¶ 4].

         On May 28, 2019, the Defendants filed their Brief in Opposition to the Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. [Doc. 14]. The Defendants argue that their Notice of Removal was timely filed, [Id. at 1], the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, [Id. at 2], and they have not waived their right to removal because they never stated a “clear and unequivocal intent to remain in state court.” [Id. at 3]. To support their claim that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the Defendants note that the Plaintiffs' Complaint claimed monetary damages in excess of $25, 000 for alleged breach of contract and punitive damages in excess of $25, 000 for alleged misrepresentation and fraud, and that the “referenced agreement, and the actions the Plaintiffs seek to order the Defendants to perform, are “valued at several million dollars.” [Id. at 2]. Notably, the contract referenced by the parties is not contained in the record.

         On June 4, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed their Reply to the Defendants' Brief in Opposition. [See Doc. 15]. The Plaintiffs argue that the Defendants failed to show that the amount in controversy is satisfied here and that the Defendants waived their right to removal. [See id.].

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions between citizens of different states if the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and complete diversity exists between the parties. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). A defendant may remove a civil action from a state court if the action is one “of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         Federal courts are “obliged to construe removal jurisdiction strictly because of the ‘significant federalism concerns' implicated.” Dixon v. Coburg Dairy, Inc., 369 F.3d 811, 816 (4th Cir. 2004) (en banc) (quoting Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994)). As such, courts must “resolve all doubts in favor of remand.” Strawn v. AT&T Mobility, LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 297 (4th Cir. 2008). “If federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is necessary.” Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151.

         Having been fully briefed, this matter is ripe for disposition.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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