Couch v. Safeco Insurance Company of America
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: it is ORDERED that the Plf's 4 motion to remand is GRANTED and the parties' 11 joint motion for order is DENIED and that this case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Covington County, Alabama; DIRECTING the Clerk to take the action necessary to accomplish the remand of this case to the Circuit Court of Covington County. Signed by Chief Judge Emily C. Marks on 10/14/2020. (Copies of docket sheet and this order mailed to Covington County Circuit Clerk) (wcl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF )
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:20-cv-00626
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Now pending before this Court is the Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (doc. 4) and
the parties’ Joint Motion for Entry of Agreed Order (doc. 11). Plaintiff Carol Couch
(“Couch”) filed this action in the Circuit Court of Covington County, Alabama on July
22, 2020, alleging breach of contract and bad faith failure to pay against defendant Safeco
Insurance Company of America (“Safeco”). (Doc. 1-1).
On August 27, 2020, the Defendant removed the case to this Court solely on the
basis of diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
A defendant may remove to federal court any civil action over which the court would
have original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). This Court has jurisdiction over actions
involving citizens of different states provided that all plaintiffs are diverse from all
defendants, see Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267 (1806), and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(b).
On August 31, 2020, the Plaintiff filed a motion to remand (doc. 4) on the basis
that the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000. (Doc. 2 at 2, para. 3). Also
pending before the Court is the parties’ joint motion for an order of remand (doc. 11).
Although the Defendant removed this case on the basis that the amount in
controversy in this case exceeds $75,000, the parties have reached an agreement to
remand this case to state court. In support of the motion to remand, counsel for Couch
submitted an affidavit stipulating that Plaintiff would “neither seek nor accept damages
greater than $75,000” in this lawsuit. (Doc. 4-3). The Court credits these representations
as bona fide and binding on Plaintiff.
Therefore, based on Couch’s affidavit and the representation of counsel that the
Plaintiff does not seek and will not accept more than $75,000 in damages, this Court
finds that the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000. Because the requisite
amount in controversy is not present in this case, this Court lacks diversity jurisdiction.
The Court emphasizes that it has relied on the representations of the Plaintiff and his
counsel in concluding that the Court lacks diversity jurisdiction. The Court finds their
representations to be binding on the plaintiff, his heirs, representatives and assigns.
In the joint motion for entry of the parties’ agreed order, the Plaintiff further
represented that upon remand to the Circuit Court of Covington County, Alabama, she
shall file an Amended Complaint stipulating that she will neither seek nor accept more
than $75,000 in this lawsuit. However, having determined that this Court lack diversity
jurisdiction, this Court declines to enter the order proposed by the parties. The Court has
no basis to retain jurisdiction when, as here, jurisdiction is lacking.
Accordingly, for the reasons as stated, and for good cause, it is
ORDERED that the Plaintiff’s motion to remand (doc. 4) is GRANTED and the
parties’ joint motion for order (doc. 11) is DENIED and that this case is REMANDED to
the Circuit Court of Covington County, Alabama.
The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to take the action necessary to accomplish
the remand of this case to the Circuit Court of Covington County.
DONE this 14th day of October, 2020.
/s/ Emily C. Marks
EMILY C. MARKS
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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