United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
RHINO SHIELD GULF SOUTH, LLC and JAMES M. REDMOND
RSUI GROUP, INC.; LANDMARK AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY; and BRIAN T. CARR, APLC
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are two motions: (1) the plaintiffs' motion to
remand; and (2) defendant Brian T. Carr, APLC's motion to
dismiss, or in the alternative, motion for more definite
statement. For the reasons that follow, the motion to remand
is DENIED, and the motion to dismiss is GRANTED.
bad faith claims adjustment and legal malpractice suit
concerns a claim that an LLC's insurers and counsel
extracted significant settlement contributions from the
LLC's members by misrepresenting protections afforded
under a liability insurance policy.
Shield of Louisiana, LLC (“Rhino Shield LA”) is a
defunct limited liability company that dissolved in 2015.
Prior to its dissolution, Rhino Shield LA allegedly obtained
liability insurance policies from RSUI Group, Inc.
(“RSUI”) and Landmark American Insurance Co.
(“Landmark”). These policies named the LLC
itself, as well as its members, as insureds. Between 2013 and
2017, former Rhino Shield of LA customers filed approximately
nine lawsuits in Louisiana state court against the company,
as well as two of its members - Rhino Shield Gulf South, LLC
(“Rhino Shield GS”) and James M. Redmond. In each
lawsuit, the former customers asserted claims under Louisiana
law that allegedly implicated coverage under the
to Rhino Shield GS and Redmond, their insurers - RSUI and
Landmark - and liability counsel - Brian T. Carr, APLC -
would respond to the lawsuits by negotiating settlements.
More specifically, Rhino Shield GS and Redmond allege that
RSUI, Landmark, and Carr
would misrepresent to Mr. Redmond that Rhino Shield GS (a
solvent Florida entity owned by Mr. Redmond) and/or Mr.
Redmond personally could be responsible for any judgment,
verdict, and/or settlement of the lawsuits or claims
referenced herein, essentially raising coverage defenses with
Mr. Redmond personally and/or mispresenting and/or failing to
inform Mr. Redmond of the liability protections afforded him
under corporate or bankruptcy laws.
Shield GS and Redmond further allege that they
“accidentally learned of RSUI/Landmark's and Brian
T. Carr, APLC's egregious violations of the duty of good
faith and fair dealing” on January 30, 2017. Exactly
one year later, on January 30, 2018, the two members sued
RSUI and Landmark in the 19th Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Baton Rouge. Following removal to the U.S. District
Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, the case was
dismissed without prejudice, on May 10, 2018, for failure to
amend the petition in response to the grant of a 12(b) motion
for more definite statement.
months later, on October 9, 2018, Rhino Shield Gulf South,
LLC and James M. Redmond filed suit in the Civil District
Court for the Parish of Orleans, asserting a claim of bad
faith claims adjusting practices, or in the alternative,
fraud against RSUI Group, Inc. and Landmark American
Insurance Co., and a legal malpractice claim against Brian T.
Carr, APLC. In their petition, the plaintiffs allege that
RSUI and Landmark violated their duties of good faith and
fair dealing under Louisiana law by misrepresenting the terms
of the policy to plaintiffs, failing to fully pay claims with
third parties until plaintiffs made contributions, and
failing to appoint counsel to adequately defend them. The
plaintiffs further allege that attorneys at Brian T. Carr,
APLC failed to properly represent and defend them by
negligently advising that they must contribute to settlements
that fell under insurance policies providing full coverage
and indemnity to plaintiffs. Finally, the plaintiffs seek to
recover damages - including an estimated $115, 062.11
allegedly extracted from them - as well as costs,
attorney's fees, interest, and punitive damages.
and Landmark timely removed the lawsuit to this Court on
November 20, 2018, invoking the Court's diversity
jurisdiction. The plaintiffs now move to remand the case on
the ground that removal was improper because Brian T. Carr,
APLC is a forum defendant. And defendant Carr moves to
dismiss the claims asserted against it pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for a more definite
statement pursuant to Rule 12(e).
the plaintiffs challenge removal in this case, the removing
defendants carry the burden of showing the propriety of this
Court's removal jurisdiction. See Manguno v.
Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723
(5th Cir. 2002); see also Jernigan v. Ashland Oil,
Inc., 989 F.2d 812, 815 (5th Cir. 1993). Given the
significant federalism concerns implicated by removal, the
removal statute is strictly construed “and any doubt
about the propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of
remand.” Gutierrez v. Flores, 543 F.3d 248,