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James Dickey, Inc. v. Alterra America Insurance Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 27, 2015

JAMES DICKEY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ALTERRA AMERICA INSURANCE COMPANY; MARKEL CORPORATION; DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND [11]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff James Dickey Inc.'s Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 11.) Plaintiff argues that Defendants Alterra America Insurance Company and Markel Corporation (collectively "Defendants") failed to prove the amount in controversy meets the threshold to establish diversity jurisdiction. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.[1]

II. BACKGROUND

On March 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant action in the San Bernardino Superior Court, alleging that Defendants unreasonably and in bad faith withheld insurance benefits owed on a policy claim for Plaintiff's stolen tools. (Compl. ¶ 11.) Through its Complaint, Plaintiff seeks to recover damages including: lost insurance benefits; pecuniary contract damages; general, incidental, and special damages; economic losses; punitive and exemplary damages; and attorney and expert fees. ( Id. at 6 ¶¶ 21-23; 7 ¶¶ 28-2; 8-9 ¶¶ 1-12.)

On May 15, 2015, Defendant Alterra timely removed the case to this Court, asserting diversity jurisdiction.[2] (Notice of Removal at 2.) On May 21, 2015, Plaintiff moved to remand, arguing against diversity jurisdiction and seeking fees for bringing the Motion. (ECF No. 11.) On June 1, 2015, Defendant Alterra opposed Plaintiff's Motion, and provided evidence in support of diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 15.) On June 8, 2015, Plaintiff replied, but provided no evidence regarding jurisdiction. (ECF No. 18.) That Motion is now before the Court for consideration.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

A defendant may remove a suit filed in state court to federal court if the federal court has original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt as to the right of removal must be resolved in favor of remand. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The removing party bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Id.

Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action arises from a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or presents diversity under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Diversity jurisdiction exists where the suit is between citizens of different states and the amount put in controversy by a plaintiff's complaint, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). For the purposes of diversity, a corporation is a citizen of its state of incorporation as well as the state of its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1); Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 92 (2010).

"[A] defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold." Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014). Only when a defendant's allegation is challenged is evidence establishing the amount in controversy required. Id. When a plaintiff challenges a defendant's allegation of jurisdiction, both sides submit proof and the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not, that the jurisdictional threshold has been satisfied. Ibarra v. Manheim Invs., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1198 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing Dart, 135 S.Ct. at 554.) A defendant need not prove that a plaintiff will recover, but only that, if a plaintiff did recover on all claims, recovery would more likely than not exceed $75, 000. Cain v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins., 890 F.Supp.2d 1246, 1249 (C.D. Cal. 2012). The court may consider evidence outside the complaint, including evidence submitted in conjunction with an opposition to a motion to remand. See Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197; see also Willingham v. Morgan, 395 U.S. 402, 407 n.3 (1969).

IV. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff seeks to remand this case to state court, arguing Defendants failed to establish that diversity jurisdiction existed at the time of removal. (Mot. at 1.) Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Defendant Alterra failed to establish the parties' citizenship in its Notice of Removal. (Mot. at 6.) In opposing Plaintiff's Motion, Defendant Alterra submitted declarations and exhibits that demonstrate complete diversity existed. (Opp'n at 11-14.) Plaintiff did not respond to Defendant Alterra's assertions of citizenship. (ECF No. 18) The Court therefore concludes that the parties do not dispute citizenship.

Plaintiff is a California corporation with its principal place of business in California. (Opp'n at 11.) Defendant Alterra is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Virginia. ( Id. at 12-13.) Defendant Markel is a Virginia corporation with a principal place of business in Virginia. ( Id. at 12.) Finally, amended Doe Defendant AmWINS is a Delaware corporation with a principal ...


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