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Kaiser v. Fed Ex Cargo Claims Dept

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 21, 2017

Duane Kaiser, Plaintiff,
v.
Fed Ex Cargo Claims Dept, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Leo I. Brisbois, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to two orders of referral, [Docket Nos. 10 and 19], made in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 6], and Plaintiffs Motion to Remand to State Court, [Docket No. 12]. This Court held a Motion Hearing on August 17, 2017, and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 6], and Plaintiffs Motion to Remand to State Court, [Docket No. 12], were taken under advisement thereafter. (See, Minute Entry, [Docket No. 24]).

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 6], be DENIED as moot, and Plaintiffs Motion to Remand to State Court, [Docket No. 12], be GRANTED.

         I. STATEMENT OF ALLEGED FACTS[1] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff Duane Kaiser purchased two outboard motors from a seller in Florida, who shipped the motors to him in Minnesota by Defendant Fed Ex. (Wood Aff, Exh. A, [Docket No. 8-1], 1; Prince Dec, Exh. E, [Docket No. 15], 21). Plaintiff alleges that the motors were damaged during shipping; as a result, on December 30, 2016, he filed a pro se claim in Minnesota State Conciliation Court. (See, Id. at Exh. A, [Docket No. 15], 6; Id. at Exh. B, [Docket No. 15], 8). Plaintiff sought $10, 000 plus filing fees and costs of $75.[2] (Id.). The Statement of Claim Plaintiff filed to initiate his case in Conciliation Court was a fill-in-the-blank form, on which Plaintiff stated:

The Defendant(s) owe(s) me $10, 000, plus filing fees and costs of $75.00, for a total of $10, 075.00 because on or about ___ (state month and year) the following event occurred (briefly describe the event): I purchased 2 2013 350 hp mercury verado motor they were damaged in shipping. FedEx refuses to acknowledge any responsibility[, ]

         ([Docket No. 1-1], 1).

         A conciliation hearing was held on April 12, 2017, and on April 25, 2017, Judge John G. Melbye issued an Order entering Judgment in Plaintiffs favor in the amount of $10, 000 plus fees of $75. (Id. at Exh. A, [Docket No. 15], 6; Id. at Exh. E, [Docket No. 15], 20). In the written Order, Judge Melbye noted that the repair estimate for the engines was $10, 534.98 plus labor and the declared value of the engines at was $40, 000, but found Defendant liable only "for the amount stated in the complaint"-$10, 000. (Id. at 21).

         On May 17, 2017, Defendant removed the case to Minnesota State District Court for a de novo trial by jury, pursuant to Minn. Stat. Ann. § 491A.02, Subd. 6. (Id. at Exh. F, [Docket No. 15], 24).

         On May 23, 2017, Defendant removed the case from the Minnesota State District Court to this Court.[3] (Notice of Removal, [Docket No. 1]). As grounds for removal, Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs state-law claim is completely preempted by the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, et seq., and therefore, this Court has jurisdiction and the action is subject to removal to federal court. (Id. at 2).

         Two days later, on May 25, 2017, Defendant filed the present Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 6]. It argues that this action must be dismissed because Plaintiff attempts to recover damages under state law which are only available under federal law, due to the complete preemption by the Carmack Amendment. (Mem. in Supp., [Docket No. 7], 1-2).

         On June 23, 2017, Plaintiff-through counsel he obtained after the removal to this Court-filed the Motion to Remand to State Court, [Docket No. 12], which is now before this Court. Plaintiff argues that applicable federal law precludes removal of this matter, as he is not seeking more than $10, 000. (Mem. in Supp., [Docket No. 14], 5-6). Plaintiff also argues that the removal was untimely. (Id. at 6-7). Finally, Plaintiffs counsel requests an award of costs and attorney's fees. (Id. at 8-9).

         II. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND TO STATE COURT, [Docket No. 12]

         Although it was filed second, this Court addresses the Motion to Remand, [Docket No. 12], before addressing the Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 6], because if the Motion to Remand is granted, it will render the Motion to Dismiss moot. See, Alliance Energy Servs., LLC v. Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC, 80 F.Supp.3d 963, 964, 973 (D. Minn. 2015) (where a federal court lacks jurisdiction, necessitating remand, it may not make any substantive rulings).

         A. ...


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