United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Hassan
Ali’s and Deka Yusuf’s Motion to Remand. Dkt. #6.
Defendant Progressive Direct Insurance Company
(“Progressive”) removed to this Court on
Diversity. Dkt. #1. Plaintiffs state that this action should
be remanded to King County Superior Court because it does not
satisfy the $75, 000.00 amount in controversy requirement.
Dkt. #6 at 2.
make two arguments. First, that they are specifically
limiting the amount they seek to less than $75, 000.00 by
stating in briefing their intention to move this case into
mandatory arbitration pursuant to RCW 7.06.020 and MAR 4.2.
Id. at 3. They argue RCW 7.06.020 limits
jurisdiction to cases where the amount in controversy is
$100, 000.00 or less, and that King County limits its
arbitration amount in controversy to $50, 000.00.
Id. Because they intend to enter into arbitration,
the amount in controversy could thus not exceed $50, 000.00.
they argue that their damages cannot be aggregated to satisfy
the jurisdictional amount in controversy requirement because
they have separate and distinct claims. Id. at 3.
(citing Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 335 (1969),
89 S.Ct. 1053. They state that because Plaintiffs Ali and
Yusuf have separate and distinct injuries from the collision,
that their damages cannot be determined together in order to
reach the 75, 000.00. Id. By this logic they would
each need to separately ask for $75, 000.00 in order to
satisfy the amount in controversy requirement.
Response, Defendant points out that the Complaint seeks
payment of: 1) the $100, 000 per person and $300, 000 per
accident policy limits under the Progressive policy; 2)
attorney fees; and 3) unspecified damages for bad faith. Dkt
#8 at 1-2. (citing Complaint). Defendant acknowledges
Plaintiffs’ declaration of their intention to move this
matter into arbitration where recoverable damages are capped
at $50, 000, exclusive of costs and attorney fees.
Id. at 3.
contends that Plaintiffs in their Motion to Remand have not
shown a “legal certainty” that the amount in
controversy requirement has not been met in this case.
Id. Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs’
Complaint establishes the amount in controversy and that
their post-removal declarations do not defeat jurisdiction.
Dkt. #8 at 4. When the Court considers the amount in
controversy, it first looks to the face of the Complaint.
Id. (citing Ibara v. Manheim Invs., Inc.,
775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015); Keodalah
v. Allstate Ins. Co., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121747, *6
(2016) (“The amount in controversy is established at
the time of removal, and includes actual damages, punitive
damages, and attorney fees authorized by contract or
argues that based on the face of Plaintiffs’ Complaint
seeking damages in the amount of $100, 000.00 per plaintiff,
plus additional damages, and attorney fees, the amount in
controversy has been established. They argue any post-removal
declarations of their intent to submit this case to mandatory
arbitration does not oust this Court of jurisdiction.
case is filed in state court, removal is typically proper if
the complaint raises a federal question or where there is
diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331,
1332(a). Once a case has been removed to Federal Court by a
defendant who has established the requisite amount in
controversy, the plaintiff can only defeat jurisdiction by
showing that it appears to a “legal certainty that the
claim is really for less than the jurisdictional
amount.” St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab
Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289, 58 S.Ct. 586, 82 L.Ed. 845
the Plaintiffs’ Complaint includes the request for
specific performance of the Progressive contract and payment
of policy limits to Plaintiffs. Given the policy limits in
question are $100, 000.00 per person and $300, 000.00 per
accident, the request on the Plaintiffs’ complaint
meets the amount in controversy requirement.
have not shown with any legal certainty that the claim is
really for less than the jurisdictional amount. Plaintiffs
provide a mere assertion of the intention to enter into
arbitration, a process that includes a legal cap of $50,
000.00. This is not sufficient. Federal courts do permit
individual plaintiffs, who are masters of their complaints to
avoid removal to federal court, and to obtain a remand to
state court by stipulating to amounts at issue that fall
below the federal jurisdiction. Std. Fire Ins. Co. v.
Knowles, 568, U.S. 588, 595, (2013), 133 S.Ct. 1345.
However, the key characteristic about those stipulations is
that they are legally binding on all plaintiffs. Id.
Here, Plaintiffs have made no such legally binding
stipulation. Even if the Court considered Plaintiffs’
briefing as legally binding, it is unclear if they are still
seeking $50, 000.00 each or $50, 000.00 total.
have not shown their damages cannot be aggregated in this
case to satisfy the jurisdiction requirement. Separate and
distinct claims of two or more plaintiffs cannot be
aggregated in order to satisfy the jurisdictional amount
requirement. Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 335
(1969), 89 S.Ct. 1053. However, aggregation has been
permitted in cases in which two or more plaintiffs unite to
enforce a single title or right in which they have a common
and undivided interest. Id. While Plaintiffs do have
separate injuries, they have united to enforce a single right
where they have the common and undivided interest that
Progressive comply with the specific performance of the
contract and payment of policy limits to Plaintiffs.
Accordingly, this motion will be denied.
reviewed the relevant pleadings, the declarations and
exhibits attached thereto, and the remainder of the record,
the Court hereby finds and ORDERS that Plaintiffs’