United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
SPENCER M. POIRIER
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the court is the consent motion to remand (Rec. Doc.
12), which was filed by the plaintiff, Spencer M. Poirier,
and defendants Fusionstorm, Matthew Kiefer, and National Fire
Insurance Company of Hartford. Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company separately consented to having
the action remanded. (Rec. Doc. 14). Therefore, the motion is
unopposed. The motion was referred to the undersigned for
review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of
this Court. For the following reasons, it is recommended that
the motion be granted.
lawsuit originated in the 16th Judicial District
Court, St. Martin Parish, Louisiana. In his original petition
for damages, the plaintiff alleged that he was involved in a
motor vehicle accident on June 5, 2017, at the intersection
of Willow Street and the Evangeline Thruway in Lafayette,
Louisiana. The plaintiff alleged that the collision was the
fault of the driver of the other vehicle involved in the
incident, Matthew Kiefer, who was allegedly driving a vehicle
rented from Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC and insured by State
Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The plaintiff
alleged that Mr. Kiefer was also insured under another policy
issued by State Farm. The plaintiff further alleged that Mr.
Kiefer was, at the time of the accident, in the course and
scope of his employment with Fusionstorm (erroneously
identified in the original petition as Fusion Storm Elite).
The plaintiff asserted claims against Mr. Kiefer, against
State Farm in its capacity as Avis's insurer, against
State Farm in its capacity as Mr. Kiefer's insurer, and
against Fusionstorm. In his amended petition, the plaintiff
asserted a claim against National Fire Insurance Company of
Hartford, based on the allegation that it issued an insurance
policy providing coverage for Fusionstorm and Mr. Kiefer. The
plaintiff alleged that he sustained bodily injuries in the
incident but he did not quantify his alleged damages.
Mr. Kiefer, and National Fire removed the action to this
court, alleging that the parties are diverse in citizenship
and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 as
required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Court reviewed the parties' pleadings in an effort to
determine whether the court has subject-matter jurisdiction
over this action. Finding that the removing defendants had
neither established that the parties are diverse in
citizenship nor that the amount-in-controversy requirement
was satisfied, this Court ordered the parties to submit
briefs addressing the court's subject-matter
jurisdiction. (Rec. Doc. 10). Rather than responding to the
briefing order, however, the removing defendants and the
plaintiff filed the instant motion to remand.
district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,
possessing only the power authorized by the Constitution and
by statute. Accordingly, federal courts have
subject-matter jurisdiction only over civil actions
presenting a federal questionand those in which the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000 exclusive of interest and costs
and the parties are citizens of different
states. The party invoking subject-matter
jurisdiction in federal court has the burden of establishing
the court's jurisdiction. Therefore, when an action is
removed from state court, the removing party bears the burden
of proving that federal jurisdiction exists. In this case, the
removing defendants must bear that burden.
Diversity of Citizenship
movants did not argue in support of their motion to remand
that the parties are not diverse in citizenship; however,
this Court finds that it is impossible, on the basis of the
record as it currently exists, to determine whether the
parties are diverse.
plaintiff's petition alleged that he is domiciled in
Louisiana. The citizenship of a natural person is determined
by the state in which he or she is domiciled. Therefore, the
plaintiff established that he is a Louisiana citizen.
Matthew Kiefer is also a natural person. The plaintiff
alleged that Mr. Kiefer resides in the State of Washington
but did not indicate where Mr. Kiefer is domiciled. As noted,
a person's citizenship is determined by his domicile.
Therefore, the removing defendants did not establish Mr.
State Farm and National Fire appear to be corporations. A
corporation's citizenship is determined by its state of
incorporation and the state in which it has its principal
place of business. But neither the plaintiff's petitions
nor the removal notice provide that information. “Where
the plaintiff [or removing party] fails to state the place of
incorporation or the principal place of business of a
corporate party, the pleadings are inadequate to establish
diversity.” In order for this Court to evaluate the
parties' citizenship, the removing defendants must
identify the states in which State Farm and National Fire
were incorporated and the states in which they have their
principal places of business.
plaintiff also sued Fusionstorm, which was described in the
amended petition as a “company.” In its corporate
disclosure statement (Rec. Doc. 7), Fusionstorm stated that
it is a corporation with its principal place of business in
Massachusetts but it did not identify the state in which it