United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Heather M. Gilbert and Terra L. Frazier, GILBERT LAW PLLC,
L. Middleton and Brandon M. Haugrud, LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C.,
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
a sex-discrimination case brought by plaintiff Kelly Newbauer
against her former employer, Hill-Rom Company Inc.
(“Hill-Rom”). Newbauer initially sued Hill-Rom in
state court, asserting claims solely under state law. ECF No.
1. Hill-Rom removed the case to federal court, contending
that this Court has diversity jurisdiction over the case
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). See 28 U.S.C. §
1441. This matter is before the Court on Newbauer's
motion to remand and request for an award of attorney's
fees. ECF No. 7.
on the basis of diversity jurisdiction is proper where there
is complete diversity of citizenship among the parties and
the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of
interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a), 1441.
Newbauer does not dispute that the parties are
diverse. Instead, she contends that the amount in
controversy is not met because her complaint “is silent
as to any specific allegation of an amount in
controversy.” ECF No. 9 at 2.
as here, the complaint alleges no specific amount of damages
or an amount under the jurisdictional minimum, the removing
party . . . must prove by a preponderance of the evidence
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.”
In re Minn. Mut. Life Ins. Co. Sales Practices
Litig., 346 F.3d 830, 834 (8th Cir. 2003). “What
matters is what is possible, not what is
likely; if it is possible for the plaintiff to
recover more than $75, 000, the amount-in-controversy
requirement is met.” Hillesheim v. Casey's
Retail Co., 16-CV-0061 (PJS/FLN), 2016 WL 3676164, at *2
(D. Minn. July 6, 2016); see also Hartis v. Chi. Title
Ins. Co., 694 F.3d 935, 944 (8th Cir. 2012) (the
question “is not whether the damages are
greater than the requisite amount, but whether a fact finder
might legally conclude that they are”
(quotation marks omitted; emphasis in original)).
deciding whether Hill-Rom has proven by a preponderance of
the evidence that it is possible for Newbauer to recover more
than $75, 000, the Court may take into account the
allegations made in the complaint. Indeed, the Eighth Circuit
has found that a removing defendant met its burden of proving
the jurisdictional amount by “looking at the face of
the complaint alone.” Hartis, 694 F.3d at 946.
light of the claims and allegations in the complaint-and
evidence that Newbauer's annual salary at the time of her
discharge was $100, 500, James Decl., ECF. No. 13, ¶
3-the Court readily finds that Hill-Rom has carried its
burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that
Newbauer could recover more than $75, 000 in this action.
Newbauer alleges that Hill-Rom discriminated against her on
the basis of sex when it (1) paid her significantly less than
male employees doing similar jobs, (2) failed to promote her
to a higher-paying job, and (3) eventually fired her.
Newbauer further alleges that Hill-Rom engaged in unlawful
retaliation by firing her for complaining about its acts of
sex discrimination. Newbauer alleges that after her unlawful
termination, she remained unemployed for nearly 17 months
until she was forced to accept a lower-paying job. Compl.,
ECF No. 1-1, ¶¶ 38-39.
requests numerous forms of relief, including all past lost
wages and benefits, all future lost wages and benefits, and
compensatory damages for emotional distress. Newbauer also
asks that these damages be trebled. Newbauer also asks for
exemplary and punitive damages. And Newbauer also seeks an
award of attorney's fees and costs. Given that Newbauer
was earning over $100, 000 per year at the time of her
discharge-and given that she alleges that she was unemployed
for 17 months after her discharge-Hill-Rom has easily
established that the amount in controversy in this matter
exceeds $75, 000. See, e.g., Mathieu v. Gopher
News Co., 273 F.3d 769, 779 (8th Cir. 2001) (upholding a
back pay award of $94, 370, a front pay award of $288, 466,
and $165, 000 damages for mental anguish in a disability
discrimination case under the MHRA where plaintiff's
salary at the time of his termination was less than $50,
the removing party has established by a preponderance of the
evidence that the jurisdictional minimum is satisfied, remand
is only appropriate if the plaintiff can establish to a legal
certainty that the claim is for less than the requisite
amount.'” Hartis, 694 F.3d at 946 (quoting
Bell v. Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir.
2009)). Newbauer has made no attempt to establish that she is
not seeking more than $75, 000.
these reasons, the Court finds that the case was properly
removed to federal court. Newbauer's motion to remand and
request for attorney's fees are therefore denied.
on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and