United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
DAVID H. DOTSON
JOHN PRICE and STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY; and PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE COMPANY; and ATLANTIC SPECIALTY LINES, INCORPORATED
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc.
5) filed by Plaintiff David H. Dotson
(“Dotson”). Defendant Progressive Direct
Insurance Company (“Progressive”) opposes the
motion. (Rec. Doc. 6). The motion, set for submission on
January 24, 2018, is before the Court on the briefs without
oral argument. Having considered the motion and memorandum of
counsel, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds
that the Plaintiff's motion should be
DENIED for the reasons set forth below.
January 19, 2016, Plaintiff David H. Dotson
(“Dotson”) filed a Petition for Damages in the
Civil District Court for Orleans Parish, Louisiana naming
John Price (“Price”) and State Farm Mutual
Insurance Company (“State Farm”) as Defendants.
The Petition alleges that on or around January 19, 2015,
Dotson was driving a tow truck owned by his employer, Pitt
and Sons, headed eastbound on Interstate 10 in Orleans Parish
when Defendant John Price, driving his Ford F-150 pickup
truck, swerved into Dotson's lane and struck the front of
Dotson's truck. In his Petition, Dotson alleges the
accident caused him serious and debilitating personal
injuries including injuries to his left shoulder and left
rotator cuff, cervical, lumbar, and sacral spine, radiating
pain to the arms and legs, and aggravation of asymptomatic
pre-existing injuries. (Rec. Doc. 1-4, p. 2). As a result,
Dotson alleges to have incurred medical expenditures and
other healthcare charges. Id.
to Progressive's Opposition, Dotson entered into a
settlement agreement with defendants Price and State Farm for
$15, 000 on August 24, 2017. Dotson then filed a motion to
dismiss his claims with prejudice against Price and State
Farm indicating that the parties had reached an amicable
agreement as to Dotson's claims against Price and State
dismissing Price and State Farm, Dotson took leave to file an
Amended and Restated Petition on September 6, 2017 naming
Progressive as an additional defendant. Dotson's Amended
Petition brings suit against Progressive alleging that at the
time of the accident Progressive was Dotson's personal
uninsured/underinsured insurer. (Rec. Doc. 1-5, p. 3).
Progressive was served with the Petition on October 2, 2017.
Thereafter, Dotson filed a Second Amended and Restated
Petition on November 3, 2017 naming Atlantic Specialty
Insurance Company (“Atlantic Specialty”) as an
additional defendant. Dotson's Second Amended Petition
against Atlantic Specialty alleges that at the time of the
accident Atlantic Specialty also provided UM insurance to
Dotson. (Rec. Doc. 1-7, p. 2).
Motion to Remand, Dotson contends that the amount in
controversy is less than $75, 000.00 because he can only
recover up to the policy limits-$50, 000-from Progressive
under its UM policy. (Rec. Doc. 5-2, p. 1). On the other
hand, Progressive points out that Dotson fails to mention
that Atlantic Specialty is also a named defendant as an
additional UM insurer. Progressive alleges that Atlantic
Specialty provided an insurance policy to Dotson's
employer, Pitt & Sons, which provides UM coverage subject
to the policy provisions with policy limits of $100, 000.
(Rec. Doc. 6, p. 5). Progressive argues that by naming
Atlantic Specialty as an additional defendant, Dotson is
seeking to recover in excess of his $50, 000 Progressive
policy limit. Because Atlantic Specialty provided UM
insurance with a $100, 000 policy limit, Progressive argues
that the value of Dotson's claims unquestionably exceeds
the amount in controversy as he is potentially able to
recover under policies with a combined limit of $150, 000.
The Court discusses the parties' respective arguments
Law and Analysis
civil action brought in a state court of which the district
courts have original jurisdiction may be removed to the
proper federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
District courts have original jurisdiction over all civil
actions where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00,
exclusive of interests and costs, and is between citizens of
different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
removing defendant, Progressive bears the burden of
showing-by a preponderance of the evidence-that the amount in
controversy in this matter exceeds $75, 000.00. Luckett
v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 171 F.3d 295, 298 (5th Cir.
1999) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332). Progressive may
make this showing by: (1) demonstrating that it is
“facially apparent” that the claims are likely
above $75, 000.00, or (2) setting forth the facts in
controversy-in the notice of removal or an affidavit-that
support a finding of the requisite amount. Id.
Court finds that Progressive has carried its burden of
showing that the jurisdictional amount is met. First,
Progressive has sufficiently set forth facts in the Notice of
Removal that support a finding of the requisite amount in
controversy. In its Notice of Removal, Progressive states
that Dotson's counsel sent Progressive incomplete medical
records and bills totaling $63, 957.50 for Dotson's
medical treatment allegedly caused by the accident. (Rec.
Doc. 1, p. 5); (Rec. Doc. 1-9). Additionally, Progressive
alleges that Dotson made at least seventeen additional visits
to Tulane Hospital for which Dotson's counsel did not
produce the medical bills.Progressive argues that it appears the
amount in controversy of Dotson's alleged medical
expenses is likely far more than $63, 957.50.
Court agrees. Dotson's seventeen hospital visits in
conjunction with a $63, 957.50 bill for left shoulder
treatment convince the Court that the amount in controversy
is above $75, 000.00. In addition to compensation for medical
expenditures, Dotson also seeks monetary damages for pain and
suffering, mental anguish, diminution of earning capacity,
and loss of enjoyment of life. Recovery of these damages
along with the medical bills disclosed by Dotson clearly show
that the amount in controversy exceeds the required amount.
Dotson argues that any award for damages is limited by the
terms of Progressive's insurance policy. Because
Progressive's policy only provides coverage up to $50,
000, Dotson contends that the amount in controversy cannot
exceed that amount, and therefore, the amount in controversy
is not met. The Fifth Circuit has established that when a
plaintiff seeks to recover payments under an insurance
policy, the amount in controversy, for purposes of
establishing diversity jurisdiction, is governed by the
lesser of the value of the claim under the policy or the
value of the policy limit. Henderson v. Allstate Fire and
Casualty Insurance Company, 154 F.Supp.3d 428, 432 (E.D.
La. 2015) (citing Hartford Ins. Grp. v. Lou-Con