United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Timothy W. Fafinski, Corporate Counsel, Minnesota 55359, for
Edgar Shriver, Law Office of Craig E. Shriver, Minnesota
55110, for Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
RoNA Sales, LLC, removed this action from Hennepin County
district court, invoking federal question jurisdiction.
Plaintiff CH Robinson Worldwide, Inc., now moves to remand.
Because CH Robinson's Complaint does not state a federal
claim on its face, the Court recommends the action be
the parties disagree about many of the facts in this case,
those relevant to the Court's decision are
straightforward. RoNA and CH Robinson had an ongoing business
relationship in which CH Robinson provided
transportation-related services for RoNA's products. Notice
of Removal Ex. B (Compl.), at ¶ 2, Docket No. 1. As part
of this relationship, Dan Cook, RoNA's president, signed
a credit application containing a forum selection clause that
limited lawsuits to state district court. Fafinksi Decl. Ex.
D (Business Credit Application), Docket No. 7. A dispute
arose between the parties after Walmart, RoNA's customer,
claimed products were not being delivered. Cook Decl. Ex. D,
Docket No. 13; Wilharm Decl. ¶ 6, Docket No. 8. As part
of the dispute RoNA withheld payment on CH Robinson's
invoices. Cook Decl. ¶ 10; Notice of Removal Ex. B, at
Robinson served RoNA with a three-count complaint alleging
(1) breach of contract, (2) account stated, and (3) unjust
enrichment, all stemming from RoNA's unpaid invoices.
Id. at ¶¶ 8-18. RoNA subsequently removed
the action, citing federal question jurisdiction as the basis
for removal because one or more of CH Robinson's claims
allegedly arise under 49 U.S.C. §§
their briefs and at the motion hearing, the parties focused
their arguments on the applicability of the forum selection
clause. But there is a more fundamental issue: under the
well-pleaded complaint rule, there is no federal question in
CH Robinson's Complaint to bestow subject matter
jurisdiction on this Court.
Defendants to a civil action brought against them in state
court may remove the case to federal court if it could have
originally been brought there. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The
party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing
subject matter jurisdiction. Cent. Iowa Power Coop. v.
Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561
F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009). Federal courts must remember
that they are “courts of limited jurisdiction,
possessing only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256
(2013). Accordingly, courts should “resolve al doubts
about federal jurisdiction in favor of remand.”
Dahl v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 478 F.3d 965, 968
(8th Cir. 2007).
Lack of Federal Question Jurisdiction
Notice of Removal, RoNA invokes federal question jurisdiction
as the basis for this Court's subject matter
jurisdiction. Removal based upon federal question
jurisdiction is generally governed by the well pleaded
complaint rule, which examines the facial allegations of a
complaint to determine whether they “affirmatively
allege a federal claim.” Beneficial Nat'l Bank
v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003). The plaintiff is
master of the complaint and may “generally avoid
removal to federal court by alleging only state law
claims.” Johnson v. MFA Petroleum Co., 701
F.3d 243, 247 (8th Cir. 2012). A federal defense to a ...