The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge
Plaintiffs commenced this case by filing a Complaint in the Supreme Court for the State of New York, Erie County, on March 24, 2008, alleging that Defendant's negligence caused Plaintiffs to sustain personal injuries. On June 24, 2008, the case was removed to this Court. (Docket No. 1.) Presently before this Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand to State Court. (Docket No. 3.) For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs' Motion is granted.
The facts of this case are straightforward. Plaintiffs Kurt and Kelly Schober are citizens and residents of New York State. (Docket No. 6, ¶ 3.) Defendant Praxair, Inc. is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, with its headquarters located in the State of Connecticut. (Docket No. 6, ¶ 4.) On April 4, 2005, Plaintiff Kurt Schober was injured while operating machinery on Defendant's property. (Docket No.1-3, ¶ 5.) Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed suit in New York State Supreme Court, alleging negligence on the part of Defendant.
Plaintiffs' Complaint sets forth two claims. The first claim seeks compensation for Mr. Schober's personal injuries. The second claim seeks compensation for Mrs. Schober's loss of "services, comfort, and society," which Mr. Schober can, allegedly, no longer provide as a result of his injury. (Docket No. 1-3, ¶ 13.)
In support of their first claim, Plaintiffs make the following allegation: [Mr.] Schober sustained severe permanent and painful injuries in and about the head, arms, legs and body and more specifically the right arm and wrist and by reason of these injuries, the Plaintiff has and will in the future be caused to expend large sums of money for surgical and hospital care, physical services, nursing care, x-rays and medical supplies in all to his [sic] monetary damage in an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limits of all lower courts in the State of New York. (Id., ¶ 9.)
Pursuant to Rule 3017(c) of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, which prohibits the inclusion of a specific monetary demand for damages in a personal injury action, Plaintiffs do not specify the amount of damages they seek in their Complaint. See N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 3017(c). Instead, Plaintiffs' Complaint states that they seek "a sum of money in excess of the jurisdictional limits of all lower courts in the State of New York plus the costs and disbursements of this action." (Id., ¶ 13.) However, in response to Defendant's Request for a Supplemental Demand for Relief, Plaintiffs stated that their demand is $74,000. (Docket No. 1-7.)
After receiving Plaintiffs' response, Defendant removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446, arguing that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction by reason of diversity of citizenship. (Docket No. 1.) Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Remand to State Court. (Docket No. 3.)
Federal district courts "are 'courts of limited jurisdiction' whose powers are confined to statutorily and constitutionally granted authority." Blockbuster, Inc. v. Galeno, 472 F.3d 53, 56 (2d Cir. 2006) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 125 S.Ct. 2611, 2616-17, 162 L.Ed.2d 502 (2005)). Pursuant to its power to ordain and establish federal courts, Congress has granted federal district courts original jurisdiction in cases between citizens of different states when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. This is commonly referred to as "federal diversity jurisdiction." See Blockbuster, Inc., 472 F.23d at 56.
When a civil action meets the requirements for federal diversity jurisdiction the defendant may remove the case from state court to a federal district court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). In order to remove a civil action, the defendant must demonstrate, in relevant part, that the plaintiff's claim -- the amount in controversy -- exceeds $75,000 by a "reasonable probability." Mehlenbacher v. Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc., 216 F.3d 291, 296 (2d Cir. 2000). To determine whether the defendant makes such a demonstration, "courts look first to the plaintiffs' complaint and then to [the defendant's] petition for removal." Mehlenbacher v. Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc., 216 F.3d 291, 296 (2d Cir. 2000).
A complaint that contains vague, conclusory allegations as to the amount in controversy will not support removal. Yonkosky v. Hicks, 409 F. Supp. 2d 149, 157 (W.D.N.Y. 2005) (Elfvin, J.). But "federal courts may look outside th[e] pleadings to other evidence in the record [when] the pleadings themselves are inconclusive as to the amount in controversy." United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 919, AFL-CIO v. CenterMark Properties Meriden Square, Inc., 30 F.3d 298, 305 (2d Cir. 1994). Courts have considered the plaintiff's medical records in order to infer whether the plaintiff seeks a substantial recovery. See, e.g., Battaglia v. Penske Truck ...