Charles et al v. GEICO General Insurance CO
Order on Motion to Remand
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF ALASKA
JACK CHARLES and
Case No. 4:06-cv-0004-RRB
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND
Bernadette Charles with a Motion to Remand to State Court (Docket
No. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447.
In particular, Plaintiffs
argue there is a local defendant in this action that defeats
Defendant GEICO General Insurance Company
opposes at Docket No. 9 and argues removal is proper because: (1)
the State Court bifurcated the bad faith claims against it; and (2)
the bifurcated claims generally do not involve the local defendant.
The Court agrees.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND - 1
This case involves an automobile collision which occurred
on May 3, 2004, in Bethel, Alaska.1
Plaintiffs’ State Court
Uninsured Motorist/Under Insured Motorist (UM/UIM) benefits against
Defendant. The uninsured driver, Valerie Joe (“Joe”), was added as
a party on May 31, 2005.2
Plaintiffs as a party.3
She was originally brought into this
Sometime thereafter, the State Court
contractual and statutory claims against Defendant.4
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A defendant removing a case to federal court has the
burden of establishing that the removal is proper.5
A suit may be
removed if removal jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 exists
and the procedures for removal at 28 U.S.C. § 1446 are followed.
Nevertheless, courts must strictly construe the removal statutes
Clerk’s Docket No. 2 at 1 (citation omitted).
Id. (citations omitted).
Plaintiffs and Joe are Alaska
Id. at 3.
“[Joe] is not a party to the bifurcated claims against
[Defendant].” Clerk’s Docket No. 9 at 2 (emphasis added).
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND - 2
against removal and must reject removal jurisdiction if there is
any doubt as to whether the removal is proper.6
Citing American Car & Foundry Co. v. Kettelhake, 236 U.S.
311, 316 (1915)(holding that “[t]he resident defendants must have
so completely disappeared from the case as to leave the controversy
1987)(where a question of law similar to the one presented in this
matter was deemed “interesting” but not resolved), Plaintiffs argue
28 U.S.C. § 1332 plainly bars removal because “[t]his case does not
involve a dismissal of . . . Joe, nor does it involve, as is
required, a resident defendant who completely disappeared from the
However, despite Plaintiffs’ argument, the Court notes
that it has the ability to ignore the citizenship of “nominal or
formal parties who have no interest in the action.”8
In determining whether Joe is a nominal or formal party
without interest, “the Court examines, among other things, the
substantiality of her stake in this action and her level of control
Clerk’s Docket No. 2 at 4 (emphasis added).
“Defendants who are nominal parties with nothing at stake
may be disregarded in determining diversity, despite the propriety
of their technical joinder.” Strotek Corp. v. Air Transport Ass’n.
of America, 300 F.3d 1129, 1133 (9th Cir. 2002)(citations omitted).
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND - 3
over the course of the litigation.”9
Having done so, the Court
concludes Joe “is named only as a means to a more substantial end,
namely the establishment of her liability for resulting damages to
[Plaintiffs] so as to trigger Defendant’s inchoate obligation to
pay on its [UM/UIM] coverage.”10
Accordingly, the Court further
concludes Joe is a nominal party - at best - whose “citizenship can
be disregarded for purposes of the jurisdictional inquiry.”
Defendant’s notice of removal was timely, see Clerk’s Docket No. 8,
Affidavit of Karen S. Burns, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand to State
Court (Docket No. 1) is hereby DENIED.
ENTERED this 24th day of April, 2006.
/s/ RALPH R. BEISTLINE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kidd v. Gilfilen, 170 F. Supp. 2d 649, 651 (S.D. W. Va.
Although not authoritative, the Kidd decision is
Id. at 652 (citation omitted).
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND - 4
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