United States District Court, D. Delaware
G. FEDALE GENERAL CONTRACTORS, LLC d/b/a G. FEDALE ROOFING AND SIDING CONTRACTORS, Plaintiff,
ARTHUR SCOTT PRELLE, et al., Defendants.
of Common Pleas of the State of Delaware in and for New New
Castle County C.A. No. CPU4-16-001553
Victoria Kathryn Petrone, Esquire and George Thomas Lees,
III, Esquire, Logan & Petrone, LLC, New Castle, Delaware.
Counsel for Plaintiff.
Scott Prelle, Malvern, Pennsylvania. Pro se Defendant.
ANDREWS, U/S. District Judge
February 21, 2017, Defendant Arthur Scott Prelle filed a
Notice of Removal of G. Fedale General Contractors, LLC
v. Prelle, C.A. No. CPU4-16-001553, from the Court of
Common Pleas of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle
County ("Court of Common Pleas"). (D.I. 2).
Plaintiff has filed a motion to remand. (D.I. 11). For the
reasons discussed below, the Court determines that it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction and will grant the motion to
remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas.
Complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas raises four
counts pursuant to Delaware law. breach of contract, quantum
meruit, unjust enrichment, and fraud. The Complaint states
that all parties are either residents of Delaware, have
offices located in Delaware, or regularly conduct business in
the State of Delaware. (D.I. 2 at Ex. 2). It appears from the
documents attached to the notice of removal that Defendant
resides in Pennsylvania as an alias summons was issued to a
Pennsylvania address where he was served. The Complaint seeks
damages in the amount of $15, 483.00 plus pre and post
judgment interest, attorneys' fees, the costs of the
action, punitive damages, and such further relief as the
Court deems just. (Id.).
asserts that removal is proper because he has a defense
arising under the constitution and laws of the United States.
(D.I. 1). Plaintiff moves for remand on the grounds that
there is no federal question to be adjudicated and diversity
jurisdiction does not exist. (D.I. 12). Defendant did not
file a response to motion to remand, although he has filed
two motions to dismiss (D.I. 5, 14), several answers and
amended answers (D.I. 9, 13, 16, 17), and a motion for leave
to amend his answer (D.I. 19). Defendant, who is not an
attorney, also filed an answer on behalf of American Holly,
LLC, as its owner. (D.I. 10). However, a corporation cannot
appear by a representative of the corporation and may only
participate in litigation through licensed counsel.
Rowland v. California Men's Colony, Unit II Men's
Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 217 (1993); Simbraw,
Inc. v. United States, 367 F.2d 373 (3d Cir. 1966).
order for a case to be removable to this Court, it must have
original jurisdiction by either a federal question or
diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332,
1441. "Only state-court actions that originally could
have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal
court by the defendant." Kline v. Security Guards,
Inc., 386 F.3d 246, 252 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987)). "Under the well-pleaded complaint rule, a cause
of action 'arises under' federal law, and removal is
proper, only if a federal question is presented on the face
of the plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint." Dukes
v. U.S. Healthcare, Inc., 57 F.3d 350, 353 (3d Cir.
1995). A federal defense does not confer subject matter
jurisdiction. In re U.S. Healthcare, Inc., 193 F.3d
151, 160 (3d Cir. 1999).
case could not have been filed originally in federal court,
then removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 is improper and
remand is appropriate. Kline, 386 F.3d at 252
(citations omitted). "The removal statutes 'are to
be strictly construed against removal and all doubts should
be resolved in favor of remand.'" Boyer v.
Snap-On Tools Corp., 913 F.2d 108, 111 (3d Cir. 1990)
(quoting Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch & Signal
Div., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987)). Where a
motion for remand is filed, the defendant has the burden of
proving that removal was proper. Boyer, 913 F.2d at
Complaint does not raise any claims under federal law and
Defendant's alleged constitutional defense does not
confer this Court with subject matter jurisdiction. In
addition, because there is not complete diversity of
citizenship among the parties, there is no diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Complaint names
four Defendants, three of whom are citizens of the State of
Delaware as is Plaintiff. "Diversity jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) requires the existence of
complete diversity between the parties- that is, no plaintiff
can be a citizen of the same state as any of the
defendants." Siravo v. Crown, Cork & Seal
Co., 256 F.App'x 577, 579 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting
Grand Union Supermarkets of the V.I., Inc. v. H.E.
Lockhart Mgmt., Inc., 316 F.3d 408, 410 (3d Cir. 2003)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
the matter in controversy does not appear to exceed the sum
of $75, 000, even when considering Plaintiffs prayer for
punitive damages. See Packard v. Provident Nat'l
Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1046 (3d Cir. 1993) ("punitive
damages are properly considered in determining whether the
jurisdictional amount has been satisfied.");
Laugelle v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., 88 A.3d
110, 125 (Del. Super. 2014). Delaware's high bar for a
plaintiff to recover punitive damages requires demonstration
of a defendant' "outrageous conduct, " "an
evil motive, " or "reckless indifference."
(citations omitted). Finally, Defendant did not oppose remand
and, as discussed above, it is his burden to prove that
removal is proper. He has failed to meet his burden.
there is no federal question, and the requisites for
diversity jurisdiction have not been met, this Court does not
have subject matter over the State action. The Court will
grant Plaintiff's motion (D.I. 11) and will summarily
remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas of the State of
Delaware in and for New Castle County pursuant to 28 U.S.C.