United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
LINDSEY DIAS, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
GENESCO, INC. and HAT WORLD, INC. d/b/a LIDS, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE.
2011, Congress enacted the Jurisdiction and Venue
Clarification Act (the “Clarification Act”), Pub.
L. No. 112-63, 125 Stat. 758 (codified at 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1441, 1446). Among other things, the
Clarification Act elucidated the procedure for analyzing
whether removing defendants meet the amount-in-controversy
requirement. See Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC
v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014). Here, the named
plaintiff, Lindsey Dias (“Dias”), challenges the
removal of her suit from the Massachusetts Superior Court on
the ground that the Defendants, Genesco, Inc. and Hatworld,
Inc. (collectively, “Lids”), miscalculated the
damages that her suit seeks. Pl.'s Mot. Remand
(“Mot. Remand”) 1, ECF No. 11. Because the
parties' briefing does not reflect the Clarification
Act's standards for analyzing the amount in controversy,
this Court ORDERS further briefing.
action arises out of Dias's employment as a store manager
at a North Attleboro, Massachusetts retail store, Lids, from
January 2015 until September 2015. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4,
ECF No. 1-1. In March 2018, Dias filed a putative class
action complaint in the Massachusetts Superior Court alleging
that Lids failed to pay store managers overtime. Id.
¶ 1. Dias claims this conduct violated the Massachusetts
Overtime Law (the “Overtime Law”), Massachusetts
General Laws chapter 151, section 1A, and seeks back pay,
treble damages, interest, and attorney's fees and costs.
Id. at 7-8. Her complaint does not specify a
particular amount of damages, and the civil cover sheet that
she filed alongside her complaint lists damages as
“TBD.” Id.; Certified Massachusetts Ct.
R. 12, ECF No. 8.
April 2018, Lids timely filed a notice of removal, citing
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Notice
Removal ¶ 6, ECF No. 1. On April 20, 2018, Dias moved to
remand, arguing that her damages fell short of the amount
required for diversity jurisdiction. Mot. Remand 1. Although
Dias and Lids briefed Dias's motion to remand, neither
Dias nor Lids cited the Clarification Act's standards for
calculating the amount in controversy. See generally
Defs.' Opp'n Mot. Remand (“Defs.'
Opp'n”), ECF No. 18; Pl.'s Reply Supp. Mot.
Remand (“Pl.'s Reply”), ECF No. 22. This
Court heard oral argument on Dias's motion on July 23,
2018 and took the matter under advisement. Electronic
Clerk's Notes, ECF No. 29. On September 19, 2018, the
parties jointly moved to stay the case for 45 days. Joint
Mot. Stay 1, ECF No. 32. The Court granted the motion and
administratively closed the case on September 20, 2018. Order
Closure, ECF No. 34.
more than 45 days have passed without update from either
party, the Court turns its attention to Dias's motion to
suggests that this Court remand this action to the Superior
Court because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,
000. Mot. Remand 1, 3. In response, Lids posits that if Dias
were to succeed in her suit, she would be entitled to damages
totaling more than $75, 000, accounting for the
attorney's fees she incurred throughout the suit.
Defs.' Opp'n 2-3. Dias disputes whether this Court
ought include her prospective attorney's fees in its
calculation of the amount in controversy. Pl.'s Reply
Standard of Review
defendant may remove a case filed in state court to the local
federal district court so long as the district court has
original jurisdiction over the case. 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a); Universal Truck & Equip. Co., Inc. v.
Southworth-Milton, Inc., 765 F.3d 103, 107-08 (1st Cir.
2014). Courts strictly construe the removal statute, In
re Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price
Litigation, 509 F.Supp.2d 82, 89 (D. Mass. 2007) (Saris,
J.), and removing defendants bear the burden of showing
federal jurisdiction, Coventry Sewage Associates v.
Dworkin Realty Co., 71 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 1995).
Lids suggests that this Court only has diversity jurisdiction
over this case. Notice Removal ¶ 6. Section 1332(a)
of chapter 28 of the United States Code provides district
courts with original jurisdiction “where the matter in
controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interests and
costs, and is between citizens of different states.”
Although “[n]ormally” courts exclude
attorney's fees from the calculation of the amount in
controversy, they include such expenses where state law
“allows plaintiffs to collect attorney's fees as
part of their damages.” Spielman v. Genzyme
Corp., 251 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2001). Both Dias and Lids
agree that the Overtime Law is such a state law. Defs.'
Opp'n 3; Pl.'s Reply 4.
Clarification Act provides the procedure for determining the
amount in controversy in diversity-jurisdiction removal
cases. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2). It instructs district
courts to “deem . . . the amount in
controversy” the “sum demanded in good faith in
the initial pleading.” Id. The district court
may, however, rely on the damages figure asserted in the
notice of removal when the “initial pleading seeks
nonmonetary relief; or a money judgment, but the State
practice either does not permit demand for a specific sum or
permits recovery of damages in excess of the amount
demanded.” Id. § 1446(c)(2)(A). In either
situation, the district court may rely on the notice of
removal's asserted amount in controversy only where it is
supported by the “preponderance of the evidence.”
Id. § 1446(c)(2)(B).
initial matter, the Court cannot deem the amount in
controversy the sum that Dias demanded in her initial
pleading for a simple reason: her complaint makes no specific
demand. Nor does the civil cover sheet she filed in the
Superior Court. See id. § 1446(c)(2); see
also Compl. 7-8; Certified Massachusetts Ct. R. 12. The
Court thus must analyze whether it may accept the figure
asserted in Lids's notice of removal. Although the
notice of ...