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Williams v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 25, 2015

KEVIN WILLIAMS,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS

IVAN L.R. LEMELLE, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Remand.[1] Defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company has filed a response in opposition.[2] The Court directed Plaintiff to submit a binding affidavit in support of the Motion for Remand.[3] Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a Reply Memorandum, including a Joint Irrevocable Stipulation and Renunciation of Right to Enforce Judgment and Claims.[4]

Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED that the Motion be GRANTED and that this matter be REMANDED back to the state court for further proceedings.

I. Facts and Procedural History

On April 18, 2013, Kevin Williams ("Plaintiff") purchased a 2013 Toyota Tundra truck ("the vehicle") and Defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm") issued an insurance policy on the vehicle. On July 4, 2014, the vehicle was stolen, and Plaintiff reported the theft to the police in New Orleans, Louisiana. The following day, Plaintiff notified his insurer of the loss and they issued a claim number to him.

On August 4, 2014, State Farm issued a reservation of rights notice, including the right to deny coverage in its entirety. Plaintiff retained counsel who responded by issuing a pre-suit demand for timely adjustment of his total loss claim. Sixty days after the vehicle's theft, no adjustment had been made and Plaintiff filed suit against State Farm in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, asserting claims under La. Rev. Stat. §§ 22:1892 or 22:1973. State Farm removed the matter to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 diversity jurisdiction.

Plaintiff contends that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and requests that the matter be remanded to the Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans, where it was originally filed. The Court reviews the law, contentions and alleged facts concerning State Farm's Motion for Remand.

II. Legal Standard

Generally, a defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court if a federal court would have had original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Original diversity jurisdiction is appropriate where the matter in controversy exceeds &75, 000 and is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). A defendant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that jurisdiction exists. De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1412 (5th Cir. 1995). The jurisdictional facts supporting removal are examined as of the time of removal. Gebbia v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 233 F.3d 880, 883 (5th Cir. 2000).

The Fifth Circuit has established a clear analytical framework for resolving disputes concerning the amount in controversy for actions removed from Louisiana state courts pursuant to §1332(a)(1). Gebbia, 233 F.3d at 883 ( citing Luckett v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 171 F.3d 295, 298 (5th Cir. 1999)). Because, Louisiana law prohibits a plaintiff from specifying the numerical value of their damages in its petition, the removing party must prove that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 by a preponderance of the evidence. Manguno v. Prudential Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720 (5th Cir. 2002).

A defendant may satisfy the burden by either: (1) demonstrating that it is facially apparent that the claims are likely to exceed $75, 000 or (2) by relying on summary-judgment type evidence of facts in controversy that establish the jurisdictional amount. Luckett, 171 F.3d at 298. The jurisdictional facts that support removal must be judged at the time of the removal. Gebbia, 233 F.3d at 883.

A motion to remand must be granted "[i]f at any time before the final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction." 28. U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Fifth Circuit has explained that the removal statute should be strictly construed. Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002). The Court has great discretion in determining whether the jurisdictional ...


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