United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
FRANK P. GERACI, JR. Chief Judge United States District Court
November 26, 2015, while at a Target store in Cheektowaga,
New York, Songja Hasseljo slipped and fell in a public
restroom and sustained “bodily injuries” as she
fell to the ground. ECF No. 1-2, at ¶ 4. Target
employees allegedly caused Hasseljo to suffer further injury
when they forcefully grabbed her by the arm and attempted to
stand her up. Id. at ¶ 9. Hasseljo sued Target
in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of
Erie, alleging that Target's negligence caused her
injuries. Target, citing the diversity jurisdiction of
federal courts under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, removed the case
to this Court. However, Target has failed to meet its burden
of proving “to a reasonable probability” that the
amount in controversy in this case is over $75, 000-which is
a prerequisite for jurisdiction under § 1332. Absent
subject matter jurisdiction, this case must be remanded to
the New York State Supreme Court.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction whose power is
limited strictly by Article III of the Constitution and
congressional statute.” United Food &
Commercial Workers Union, Local 919, AFL-CIO v. CenterMark
Props. Meriden Square, Inc., 30 F.3d 298, 303 (2d Cir.
1994) (citing Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch.
Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986)). Judicial scrutiny is
particularly important where, as here, the defendant has
removed the case from state court. DiPonzio v. Bank of
Am. Corp., No. 11-CV-06192, 2011 WL 2693912, at *2
(W.D.N.Y. July 11, 2011) (noting that “removal
implicates both state court independence and the federal
docket”); see also Houston v. Scheno, No.
06-CV-2901, 2007 WL 2230093, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. July 31, 2007).
The Second Circuit has cautioned district courts to
“construe the removal statute narrowly, resolving any
doubts against removability.” Lupo v. Human Affairs
Int'l, Inc., 28 F.3d 269, 274 (2d Cir. 1994) (citing
Somlyo v. J. Lu-Rob Enters., Inc., 932 F.2d 1043,
1045-46 (2d Cir.1991)). Thus, with respect to the amount in
controversy requirement under § 1332, the removing party
bears the burden of proving “to a reasonable
probability” that the amount in controversy is over
$75, 000. Mehlenbacher v. Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc., 216
F.3d 291, 296 (2d Cir. 2000); Uddin v. Mamdani, No.
16CV4385, 2016 WL 4536870, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 30, 2016).
Target has failed to meet that burden. In its notice of
removal, Target asserted that “[i]n light of the
Plaintiff's claimed injuries, damages in excess of $75,
000 could be awarded.” ECF No. 1, at ¶ 13. In
support of that assertion, Target submitted medical records
and a letter from Hasseljo to Target regarding the incident.
Id. at Exs. E, F. After reviewing Hasseljo's
complaint and the documents submitted by Target, the Court
disagreed. See ECF No. 4. Therefore, the Court
issued an Order to Show Cause requiring Target to demonstrate
why the case should not be remanded to state court.
response to the Order to Show Cause, Target has submitted
another letter from Hasseljo to Target and photographs
purporting to depict Hasseljo's injuries. ECF No.
In her letter, which was sent a month after the fall,
Hasseljo describes her injuries (and the circumstances
surrounding the incident) in more detail than she included in
her complaint. ECF No. 5, Ex. B. However, the Court remains
doubtful that the amount in controversy in this case exceeds
the record before the Court at this time, as well as the fact
that it is Target's burden to show that the requirements
for jurisdiction are satisfied, the Court concludes that it
does not have subject matter jurisdiction in this case.
reasons stated above, this case is remanded to the Supreme
Court of the State of New York, County of Erie. The Clerk of
Court is directed to close this case and to transmit this
Order to the Clerk of the Supreme Court of the State of New
York, County of Erie.
 Target also submitted letters from
Target's counsel to Hasseljo's counsel requesting
compliance with certain discovery demands by Target. ECF No.
5, at Ex. C. Target argues that “[h]ad Plaintiff timely
responded to Target's demands, including the Demand for
Specific Relief Requested, Target would have more
comprehensive proof of this Court's jurisdiction.”
ECF No. 5, at 4. That is not an issue properly before the
Court at this time.
 For example, Hasslejo states that she
“lost conscience [sic] I felt I died” and that
she was detained for an hour and a half by Target store
managers even though she ...