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Sayani v. Whole Foods Market

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 18, 2019

PARVEEN SAYANI and ABDUL SAYANI, her husband, Plaintiffs,
v.
WHOLE FOODS MARKET, WO MADISON, LLC c/o THOMSON TAX & ACCOUNTANT, JOHN DOES 1-10 said names being fictitious, and XYZ CORPORATIONS 1-10 said names being fictitious, Defendants.

         Not for Publication

          OPINION

          John Michael Vazquez, U.S.D.J.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Parveen Sayani and, her husband, Abdul Sayani's (collectively "Plaintiffs") motion to remand to state court. Defendant Whole Foods Market ("Defendant") opposes this motion. This motion was decided without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78 and Local Civil Rule 78.1. The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions in support and opposition, [1] and for the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.

         I. FACTS[2] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On or about July 25, 2018, Plaintiffs instituted this action in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Pl. Br., Ex. A. Plaintiffs alleged that Parveen Sayani fell and suffered injuries as a result of Defendants' failure to "properly own, operate, maintain, control, repair and/or supervise the subject premises." Id. at 3. Plaintiffs specifically alleged in their Complaint that "as a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the defendants, " Parveen Sayani

was caused to fall and suffer injuries, has suffered and will in the future suffer much pain in mind and body, has incurred and will in the future incur expenses for medical care and treatment, has suffered and will in the future suffer economic loss, was unable and will in the future be unable to attend to her usual and customary activities and was caused to suffer permanent injury.

Id. at 3. Plaintiffs also alleged the following regarding Abdul Sayani:

As a result of the negligence of the defendants aforesaid, plaintiff, ABDUL SAYANI, has been caused to suffer a loss of consortium, has been forced to undertake certain activities that he did not previously have to perform, has been caused to suffer great mental anguish as a result of his wife's injuries, has been forced to expend sums of money for medical care, has suffered economic damages and will in the future be caused to suffer said losses.

Id. at 4. Plaintiffs' Complaint did not allege a specific amount of damages or include an allegation that their damages exceed the minimum federal jurisdictional amount. Id.

         On or about September 21, 2018, Defendant Whole Foods filed an Answer. Pl. Br., Ex. B. Defendant denied the allegations and asserted fifteen affirmative defenses. Id. at 1-5. Additionally, Defendant included the following request for a statement of damages: "Defendant requests that Plaintiff furnish, within five (5) days of the date hereof, a written specification of the amount of damages claimed, in accordance with R. 4:5-2." Id. at 1 -5. As far as this Court is aware, Plaintiffs did not respond to Defendant's request for a statement of damages.

         On November 5, 2018, Defendant made a second request, this time through a request for admissions, to learn Plaintiffs' alleged amount in controversy. Pl. Br., Ex. D at 34. The request for admissions directed Plaintiffs to admit or deny the truth of the following statement: "Plaintiffs' damages, if proven at trial, are valued in excess of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs." Id. On November 27, 2018, Plaintiffs responded to Defendant's request and admitted that their alleged damages were over $75, 000. Id. at 38. Defendant claims that this response was the first instance that put Defendant on notice that the amount in controversy exceeded S75, 000. Def. Opp. at 2.

         On December 13, 2018, Defendant Whole Foods removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Pl. Br., Ex. D¶¶ 11-14. According to Defendants, Plaintiffs are citizens of New Jersey. Id. ¶2. Defendant Whole Foods is a citizen of Delaware and Texas. Id. ¶ 1. In its notice of removal, Defendant alleged that complete diversity of citizenship exists between the parties[3] and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, so removal is proper. Id. ¶ 9-11. Defendant further claimed that removal is timely under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) because the notice of removal was filed within thirty days of Defendant's first notice that Plaintiffs' claimed damages exceed $75, 000 and within one year of the filing of the Complaint. Id. ¶ 14.

         On December 28, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the current motion to remand this case to state court, alleging that Defendant's removal was untimely because the notice was filed over thirty days after Defendant received the summons and complaint. D.E. 4; Pl. Br. at 4. Defendant filed opposition, D.E. 5-2, to which Plaintiffs replied, D.E. 6.

         II. ...


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