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Certain Underwriters At Lloyd's of London Subscribing To Policy No. v. Commonwealth International

June 19, 2012

CERTAIN UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S OF LONDON SUBSCRIBING TO POLICY NO. FINFR 1001771, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COMMONWEALTH INTERNATIONAL, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [12]

I.INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Defendant Commonwealth International, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). (Dkt. No. 12.) Having carefully considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to this Motion, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15.

II.FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Commonwealth runs an armored-car business and obtained an insurance policy from Lloyd's to cover its business operations. (FAC ¶¶ 9--11.) Lloyd's alleges that Commonwealth misrepresented the nature of its operations. (FAC ¶ 1.) Commonwealth seeks a dismissal based on lack of diversity jurisdiction. Central to this Motion is understanding Lloyd's organizational structure.

Lloyd's functions as a marketplace where investors buy and sell insurance risks. Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. Osting-Schwinn, 613 F.3d 1079, 1083 (11th Cir. 2010). These investors-also known as names-underwrite insurance through administrative subgroups called syndicates, which are analogous to an unincorporated association. Id. Each name is severally, but not jointly, liable to the insured for its fraction of the risk on a given policy. Id. The constituent names assume individual percentages of underwriting the risk. Id. Commonwealth contends that diversity jurisdiction is insufficiently pleaded for each of the names on the policy; and so, the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and must dismiss the case.

III.LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Id. If the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

For a federal court to exercise diversity jurisdiction, there must be complete diversity between the parties; and the amount in controversy-exclusive of interest and costs-must exceed $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Under the legal-certainty standard, a federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction unless "upon the face of the complaint, it is obvious that the suit cannot involve the necessary amount." Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2010).

On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, the well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true. Orsay v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 289 F.3d 1125, 1127 (9th Cir. 2002). And the court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings-the court "may review any evidence, such as affidavits and testimony, to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction." McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988).

IV.DISCUSSION

Lloyd's contends that the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action because (1) there is complete diversity of citizenship, and (2) the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. (FAC ¶ 6.) Commonwealth argues that both citizenship and the amount in controversy are insufficiently pleaded. The Court considers each in turn.

A. Complete diversity of citizenship

There are seven corporate entities that compose the four syndicates subscribing to the Commonwealth policy. (FAC ¶ 4.) The citizenship of each of these seven entities must be considered for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. Majestic Ins. Co. v. Allianz Int'l Ins. Co., 133 F. Supp. 2d 1218, 1223 (N.D. Cal. 2001). Lloyd's alleges that each of the seven entities is incorporated under the ...


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