United States District Court, E.D. Washington
THOMAS E. PAULUS and KRISTY L. PAULUS, and the marital community thereof, Plaintiffs,
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE CO., a foreign insurance company, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
O. RICE, Chief United States District Judge.
THE COURT is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (ECF No. 3).
This matter is scheduled to be heard with oral argument on
November 14, 2019. The Court has reviewed the record and
files herein, considered the parties' completed briefing,
and is fully informed. The Court has determined that oral
argument would not materially assist in resolving the motion.
LCivR 7(i)(3)(B)(iii). For the reasons discussed below,
Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (ECF No. 3) is DENIED.
case arises out of Plaintiff Thomas Paulus' claim under
an insurance policy with Defendant Allstate following Mr.
Paulus' injury in a motor vehicle accident. On July 12,
2019, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in Spokane County Superior
Court alleging various violations of state law, including the
Insurance Fair Conduct Act and the Consumer Protection Act.
ECF No. 1-1. On August 21, 2019, Defendant filed a notice of
removal to federal court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. On September 19, 2019, Plaintiffs
filed a motion to remand the case to state court. ECF No. 3.
Defendant opposes the motion. ECF No. 4.
removed this case to federal court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiffs do not dispute that
the parties are of diverse citizenship. ECF No. 3 at 5.
However, Plaintiffs argue Defendant's notice of removal
fails to establish that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000. Id.
28, United States Code Section 1441 governs removal of cases
from state court to federal court. Generally, a defendant may
remove a case to federal court if the federal court would
have subject-matter jurisdiction over one or more of the
plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1331 (federal question) or 1332 (diversity of citizenship).
See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), (b). Once a case has
been properly removed, a federal court must generally
entertain all claims over which it has original
subject-matter jurisdiction. See Quackenbush v. Allstate
Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716 (1996) (noting that
“federal courts have a strict duty to exercise the
jurisdiction that is conferred upon them by Congress”
in removal proceedings). Federal courts have jurisdiction
over cases where the parties are of diverse citizenship and
the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,
000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
state court complaint is ambiguous or unclear as to the
amount in controversy, the removing party bears the burden of
establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the
amount in controversy exceeds the required jurisdictional
amount. Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d
696, 699 (9th Cir. 2007). A removal petition that merely
asserts the amount in controversy is satisfied, without
setting forth the underlying facts to support the assertion,
is insufficient to support removal. Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992). However, where
the relevant factual information is later added to the
record, “it is proper to treat the removal petition as
if it had been amended to include the relevant information
contained in the later-filed affidavits.”
Willingham v. Morgan, 395 U.S. 402, 407 n.3 (1969).
The amount in controversy calculation should include all sums
to be paid by the defendant. Guglielmino, 506 F.3d
at 701. This can include general and specific damages,
attorney's fees, and punitive damages. Kroske v. U.S.
Bank Corp., 432 F.3d 976, 980 (9th Cir. 2005). “A
settlement letter is relevant evidence of the amount in
controversy if it appears to reflect a reasonable estimate of
the plaintiff's claim.” Cohn v. Petsmart,
Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 840 (9th Cir. 2002).
Defendant's notice of removal asserts that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000, but it offers no facts to
support this assertion. ECF No. 1 at 2-3. However, in
opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand, Defendant
submits several exhibits to support the asserted amount in
controversy. ECF No. 5. Included in the exhibits is a demand
letter in which Plaintiffs' attorney requests $75, 000
exactly to settle this case. ECF No. 5-4 at 1. The demand
letter also asserts that the “conservative
calculation” of Plaintiffs' actual damages is the
unpaid benefit amount of $24, 378.86, which may be trebled
under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. Id. at 1-2;
RCW § 48.30.015(2). This would bring the treble damages
calculation to $73, 136.58. The Consumer Protection Act also
authorizes separate treble damages up to a statutory maximum
of $25, 000. ECF No. 5-4 at 2; RCW § 19.86.090. These
figures do not account for Plaintiffs' claims for
attorney's fees. Defendant has demonstrated, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy
in this case exceeds $75, 000. Accordingly, federal diversity
jurisdiction is present, and Defendant's removal was
proper. Plaintiffs' motion to remand is denied, and
Plaintiffs' associated request for attorney's fees
related to the motion to remand is denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Motion to Remand (ECF ...