United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
C. NORTON, JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on plaintiff Crystal Michelle
Sparks's (“Crystal”) motion to remand, ECF
No. 7. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the
action arises out of a tractor-trailer collision that
occurred on November 23, 2016 in Orangeburg County, South
Carolina. On that day, Crystal's husband, Wilbur Dean
Sparks (“Dean”), was traveling west on Interstate
26. Defendant Edward Davis (“Davis”) was also
travelling west while operating a tractor trailer in the
right lane of the interstate, parallel to Dean. Davis
allegedly changed lanes and collided with Dean's vehicle,
causing Dean to suffer various injuries.
August 25, 2017, Dean filed an action in the Hampton County
Court of Common Pleas, requesting damages not to exceed $74,
999. On February 2, 2018, Dean filed an amended complaint in
county court, removing the $74, 999 damages cap. On September
17, 2017, Crystal filed a loss of consortium case in the
Hampton County Court of Common Pleas, limiting her damages to
no more than $74, 999. Defendants removed both cases on
February 14, 2018. Defendants have moved in Dean's case
to consolidate Crystal's and Dean's cases. See
Wilbur Dean Sparks v. Edward Davis, et. al.,
2:18-cv-00428, ECF No. 6. However, on March 15, 2018, Crystal
filed a motion to remand her case. ECF No. 7. Defendants
filed their response in opposition on March 21, 2018. ECF No.
8. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for the
party seeking to invoke the court's jurisdiction,
defendants have the burden of proving jurisdiction upon
motion to remand. Dixon v. Coburg Dairy, Inc., 369
F.3d 811, 816 (4th Cir. 2004) (citing Mulcahy v. Columbia
Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994));
see Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 73
(1996) (stating that the party seeking to remove a case from
state court to federal court bears the burden of
demonstrating that jurisdiction is proper at the time the
petition for removal is filed). In deciding a motion to
remand, the federal court should construe removal
jurisdiction strictly in favor of state court jurisdiction.
Id. “If federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a
remand is necessary.” Mulcahy, 29 F.3d at 151
(citations omitted), Pohto v. Allstate Ins. Co., No.
10-2654, 2011 WL 2670000, at *1 (D.S.C. July 7, 2011)
(“Because federal courts are forums of limited
jurisdiction, any doubt as to whether a case belongs in
federal or state court should be resolved in favor of state
district courts have jurisdiction of “all civil actions
where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000 . . . and is between . . . citizens of a State and
citizens or subjects of a foreign state.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(2). Defendants argue that removal of
Crystal's case was proper because, even though her amount
in controversy does not exceed $75, 000, her case is
substantially related to her husband's case, and thus the
court should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her case
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. The court disagrees.
1367 provides that “the district courts shall have
supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so
related to claims in the action within such original
jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy under Article III of the United States
Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367. This statute
empowers the court to exercise jurisdiction over other
claims that are brought within an action, if those
claims are sufficiently related to the case or controversy.
It does not empower the court to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over independent state-court actions, even if
they do involve the same facts. The situation before this
court does not involve a single action in which separate
claims have been brought by different plaintiffs. Rather, it
involves two distinct actions that were filed separately in
state court and which have been individually removed. As
Crystal has noted, “[u]nder South Carolina law, unlike
that of some other states, loss of consortium is an
independent action, not derivative.” Stewart v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 533 S.E.2d 597, 604
(S.C. Ct. App. 2000). Thus, the court finds that it may not
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Crystal's
entirely separate state action.
found that the court will not exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Crystal's action, the court next
considers whether it may otherwise exercise subject-matter
jurisdiction over the matter due to diversity. Because
Crystal's complaint does not allege an amount in
controversy exceeding $75, 000, the court finds that the
matter does not meet the requirements of § 1332.
Accordingly, the court grants Crystal's motion to remand.
reasons set forth above, the court GRANTS
the motion to ...