United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR REMAND
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Remand (Dkt. 7). The Court has considered Defendant First
National Insurance Company's Response (Dkt. 10), the
Complaint (Dkt. 1-2), and the remainder of the file herein.
Plaintiff did not file a Reply.
seeks remand on the basis that the Court lacks original
jurisdiction. Defendant removed the case from Clark County
Superior Court based on alleged diversity jurisdiction,
see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and Plaintiff argues that
the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000.
Complaint centers on allegations that Defendant acted in bad
faith in another lawsuit, an uninsured motorist case in which
Plaintiff alleges that he is entitled to insurance benefits.
Dkt. 1. Plaintiff filed the present case in Clark County
Superior Court on June 22, 2017, and the case was timely
removed by Defendant on July 21, 2017. Dkt. 1.
Complaint is accompanied by a Notice of Removal, which
represents that diversity jurisdiction is proper because
Defendant is a citizen of a state other than Washington,
Plaintiff is a resident of Clark County, Washington, and the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Dkt. 2 at
¶¶4-7. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In
support of the amount of controversy alleged, the Notice of
Removal alleges that Defendant made Plaintiff a written offer
of $69, 277.13 on June 23, 2017; that Plaintiff rejected the
offer because it was too low; and that the Complaint seeks
attorney fees and treble damages under the Consumer
Protection Act (CPA) and the Insurance Fair Conduct Act
(IFCA). Id. at ¶7.
Complaint alleges that Defendant “has violated the
Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86.020, et seq. . .
. as well as administrative code passed under authority of
the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, RCW 48.30.15, et
seq. Dkt. 1-2 at ¶77. Relatedly, the Complaint
alleges a range of conduct by Defendant that, if true, could
violate IFCA and the CPA. See generally, Dkt. 1-2 at
GOVERNING MOTION FOR REMAND
U.S.C. § 1441, provides that “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or defendants, to the district court of the
United States for any district . . . where such action is
pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). District courts
have “original jurisdiction, ” among other
reasons, where there is complete diversity between the
parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 at the
time of removal. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Where removal is
based on diversity jurisdiction, the removing defendant must
show the sufficiency of the amount in controversy by a
preponderance of the evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2).
Removal statutes are construed restrictively, and any doubts
about removability are resolved in favor of remanding the
case to state court. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d
564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
motion for remand, the removing defendant faces a strong
presumption against removal, and bears the burden of
establishing that removal was proper by a preponderance of
evidence. Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567; Sanchez v.
Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 403-04 (9th Cir.
1996). Conclusory allegations by the defendant will not
suffice to overcome the traditional presumption against
removal. Rodgers v. Central Locating Service, Ltd.,
412 F.Supp.2d 1171, 1175 (W.D. Wash. 2006); Singer v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 375 (9th
Cir. 1997). Instead, the courts may look beyond pleadings and
consider other summary judgment type evidence relevant to the
amount in controversy, tested as of the time of removal.
Kroske v. U.S. BankCorp., 432 F.3d 976, 980 (9th
Cir. 2005); Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d
1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004).
present motion for remand is brought by Plaintiff, who does
not make a specific showing about the amount in controversy.
See generally, Dkt. 7. Instead, Plaintiff argues
that Defendant cannot meet its burden to show the amount in
controversy, where Defendant's assessment is flawed and
based on incorrect assumptions. Dkt. 7 at 2-5. Because the
Complaint is silent as to the amount in controversy,
Plaintiff argues, Defendant has relied on its settlement
offer to Plaintiff in the amount of $69, 277.13 to make its
showing. However, Plaintiff explains, that offer was made to
resolve the underlying uninsured motorist case, not
this case. Dkt. 7 at 2-5. Plaintiff also rejects any
calculation that would rely on including treble damages under
IFCA. According to Plaintiff, IFCA is raised only as a theory
of liability for the CPA claims and is not alleged as a
separate claim. Id. at 3. See Dkt. 1-2 at
¶77. Plaintiff also notes, parenthetically, that he
could not have alleged IFCA violations, because he does not
allege that Defendant denied coverage, which is a
prerequisite to an IFCA violation. Id.
argues that even if the Complaint only alleges CPA
violations, not IFCA violations, the amount in controversy is
satisfied because each CPA violation, if proved, could
include up to $25, 000 in treble liability alone, and there
are sixteen discretely alleged CPA violations, plus
attorneys' fees to be included in the calculation. Dkt.
10 at 2, 3, 7, 8. Defendant also notes that Plaintiff has not
submitted a declaration or evidence to contradict
Defendant's submission and argues that Plaintiff's
arguments misinterpret the applicable law. Id. at 5,
Court finds that Defendant has shown by a preponderance of
the evidence an amount in controversy that exceeds $75, 000,
so original jurisdiction under § 1332 is proper. From
the face of the Complaint, multiple bases for CPA claims are
apparent. See Dkt. 1-2 at ¶76 (failure to make
a timely and reasonable investigation; failure to make
prompt, fair settlement; failure to timely acknowledge
material communications; engaged in bad faith). If Plaintiff
prevails on just three of the multiple CPA claims alleged,
and those claims are trebled to their maximum of $25, 000
each, the amount in controversy is easily exceeded. If
Plaintiff's counsel is awarded attorneys' fees,
see Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696,
700 (9th Cir. 2007), the amount will further increase. The
Court's calculation does not rely on the $69, 277.13
settlement offer by Defendant, although the offer does
support an ...