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Malpass v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

October 30, 2017

CHRISTOPHER W. MALPASS, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR REMAND

          STANLEY A. BASTIAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion to Remand, ECF No. 5. A hearing on the motion was held on October 12, 2017. Plaintiff was represented by John M. Randolph. Defendant was represented by Laura Hawes Young.

         Background

         Plaintiff was a passenger in a car accident in which he sustained serious injuries. The driver of the car had an insurance limit of $25, 000. Plaintiff settled with the driver's insurance company. The driver of the car that hit them and was subsequently determined to be the most at fault did not have insurance. Plaintiff sought uninsured motorist benefits from his own insurance company, Defendant State Farm Automobile Insurance Company. It denied the claim, believing that the value of Plaintiff s claim was covered by the amount of the settlement he received.

         Plaintiff sued Defendant in Spokane County Superior Court, alleging a breach of contract claim and a bad faith claim. Defendant removed this action to the Eastern District of Washington, citing diversity jurisdiction. Defendant is incorporated in Illinois and its principal place of business is Illinois. Although the amount of damages is not specified in the Complaint, Plaintiff is alleging general and special damages, treble damages, and attorneys fees. He alleges he has suffered serious injuries including broken bones, permanent scaring and permanent damage to the range of motion in his finger.

         In March, 2017, Plaintiffs counsel sent a letter to Defendant indicating his willingness to settle with Defendant for $105, 000. ECF No. 10, Ex. A. A second letter was sent in May, 2017, reiterating a demand for $105, 000. ECF No. 10, Ex. B. In his reply to the Motion to Remand, Plaintiff indicated that he was willing to accept $74, 999 to resolve all claims including attorneys' fees and extra contractual claims. ECF No. 8-3.

         Legal Standard

         A. Legal Standard

         28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) permits a party to a civil action that is brought in state court to remove the action to federal court if the district court would have had original jurisdiction at the time of both commencement of the action and removal.

         28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) provides that a district court shall have original jurisdiction over all civil actions where: (1) the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs, and (2) the matter is between citizens of different states. Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold. Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a case should be remanded to state court. Id. The Court can consider facts presented in the removal petitions as well as any "summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of removal." Id. Conclusory allegations as to the amount in controversy are insufficient.

         Subsection (c) provides that in the case of any direct action against the insurer of a policy or contract of liability insurance, whether incorporate or unincorporated, to which action the insured is not joined as a party-defendant, such insurer shall be deemed a citizen of-

(A) every State and foreign state of which the insured is a citizen;
(B) every State and foreign state by which the insurer has been incorporated; and
(C) the State or foreign state where the insurer has its principal ...

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