United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
EMILY B. CHERKIN and BENJAMIN GITENSTEIN, Plaintiffs,
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign insurer; JACLYN SEIFERT and JOHN DOE SEIFERT; and LAWRENCE H. BORK and JANE DOE BORK, and their marital community, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ motion to
remand. Dkt. # 15. For the reasons below, the Court
GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion.
case arises out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on
April 27, 2014. Dkt. #1-2 at ¶ 4.2. After settlement of
their claims against the at-fault driver, Plaintiffs
requested that Defendant GEICO pay benefits pursuant to their
underinsured motorist (“UIM”) policy. During the
course of the investigation of the plaintiffs’ UIM
claim, two GEICO employees, Defendants Jaclyn Seifert and
Lawrence Bork, worked on the Plaintiffs’ claim as
adjusters. See, e.g., Dkt. ##1-2 at ¶¶
1.3, 1.4, 5.11, 5.13. After GEICO refused to pay any benefits
pursuant to Plaintiffs’ UIM policy, Plaintiffs
initiated an action in the King County Superior Court on May
2, 2018. Id. at 17.
filed a notice of removal on June 11, 2018. Dkt. # 1.
Defendants then filed Motion to Dismiss Defendants Jaclyn
Seifert and Lawrence Bork on June 15, 2018. Dkt. # 5.
Plaintiffs responded to the motion and Defendants filed a
reply. See Dkt. ## 9-12. On December 27, 2018, the
Court entered an order denying Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss and ordering Defendants to Show Cause “why this
case should not be remanded to state court.” Dkt. # 13.
Specifically, the Court noted that the Washington Court of
Appeals in Keodalah v. Allstate Ins. Co., 3 Wn.App.
2d 31 (2018), held that insurance adjusters can be
individually liable for bad faith and CPA claims.
Id. at 40–43. Plaintiffs bring bad faith and
CPA claims against all Defendants. Given the conclusion that
Seifert and Bork should not be dismissed as Defendants in
this matter, the Court stated that case lacks the complete
diversity of citizenship required for federal jurisdiction
and issued an order to show cause as to why this case should
not be remanded to state court. On April 4, 2019, Plaintiff
filed a motion to remand, which is currently before the
Court. Dkt. # 15.
jurisdiction is strictly construed in favor of remand and any
doubt as to the right of removal must be resolved in favor of
remand. Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425
F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The party seeking a federal
forum has the burden of establishing that federal
jurisdiction is proper. Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem.
Co., 443 F.3d 676, 682-83 (9th Cir. 2006). The removing
party must carry this burden not only at the time of removal,
but also in opposition to a motion for remand. See
Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241,
1244 (9th Cir. 2009). Pursuant to the “well-pleaded
complaint rule, ” federal-question jurisdiction exists
“only when a federal question is presented on the face
of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
assert that this Court has jurisdiction over this matter
based on diversity of citizenship of the parties. Dkt. # 1.
The Court has diversity jurisdiction over civil actions where
the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the case is
between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Plaintiffs and Defendants Seifert and Bork are all citizens
of Washington. As a result, the requirements for diversity
jurisdiction have not been met. As they did in their motion
to dismiss, Defendants argue that Seifert and Bork are
dispensable parties and thus should be dropped under Rule 21.
Dkt. # 16 at 2. Defendants argue that there is no basis on
which to distinguish Seifert’s and Bork’s
liabilities separate and apart from GEICO because they are
alleged to be representatives of GEICO on Plaintiffs’
insurance claim. Id. at 3. (“Plaintiffs do not
allege facts that would allow a finding of violations against
the individual employees but not find against GEICO as stated
above, there are no allegations that Seifert or Bork acted
outside the scope of their employment.”).
Court again concludes that Seifert and Bork are not
dispensable parties. Plaintiffs brought this case against
them based on a viable state law. See Keodalah v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 3 Wn.App. 2d 31 (2018) (holding that
insurance adjusters can be individually liable for bad faith
and CPA claims). Plaintiffs bring bad faith and CPA claims
against all Defendants. Accordingly, there is no diversity of
citizenship and this Court lacks jurisdiction over this
reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiffs’ motion. Dkt. # 15. The Court hereby