Duepner v. Government Employees Insurance Company et al

Filing 45

ORDER granting 39 Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. The Clerk shall remand this case to Maricopa County Superior Court. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 7/10/2014. (See Order for details)(ALS)

Download PDF
    1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 James Duepner, Plaintiff, 10 11 12 No. CV14-00244 PHX DGC ORDER v. Government Employees Insurance Company and GEICO Casualty Company, 13 Defendants. 14 15 Plaintiff has filed a motion to remand. Doc. 39. The motion is fully briefed, and 16 no party has requested oral argument. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant 17 the motion. 18 Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, any civil action brought in state court over which the 19 federal district courts have original jurisdiction may be removed to the federal district 20 court for the district where the action is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). There is a “strong 21 presumption” against removal and “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any 22 doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 23 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “The ‘strong presumption’ against removal jurisdiction means that 24 the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id. “If at 25 any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter 26 jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). 27 Removal in this case was based on diversity jurisdiction and an amount in dispute 28 of more than $75,000. Where, as here, “the complaint does not demand a dollar amount,     1 the removing defendant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence 2 that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75,000].” Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. 3 Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997). To meet its burden, the defendant “must provide 4 evidence establishing that it is ‘more likely than not’ that the amount in controversy 5 exceeds [$75,000].” Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 6 1996). 7 Defendants argue that Plaintiff filed an offer of judgment with the complaint for 8 $199,960 and called defense counsel’s attention to a much higher bad faith judgment in 9 another state. Defendants also note that the complaint alleges egregious wrongs on the 10 part of Defendants. 11 Plaintiff notes that he has communicated an offer to settle this case for $70,000, 12 and asserts that he will serve an offer of judgment in this amount if the case is remanded 13 to state court. (Offers of judgment in federal court may be filed only by defendants. See 14 Fed. R. Civ. P. 68(a).) In addition, Plaintiff notes that the actual loss from the vehicle 15 break-in in this case is less than $5,000. 16 It appears to the Court that this case is likely worth less than $75,000. The fact 17 that a high bad faith verdict has been entered in another state, that the complaint alleges 18 egregious wrongs, or even that Plaintiff initially demanded more than $75,000 do not 19 establish by a preponderance of the evidence that this case, which concerns personal 20 property lost from the break-in of a vehicle, in fact is worth more than $75,000. As noted 21 above, this Court should remand a matter to state court if there is any doubt about the 22 Court’s jurisdiction. The Court finds substantial doubt that the amount in controversy in 23 this case will exceed $75,000, and therefore will remand the case to state court. See 24 Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1118 (9th Cir. 2004) (“If the district court 25 determines that it is sufficiently doubtful that the amount-in-controversy requirement has 26 been met and thus that federal subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the district court 27 should . . . remand to state court”). 28 /// ‐ 2 ‐      1 2 3 IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to remand (Doc. 39) is granted. The Clerk shall remand this case to Maricopa County Superior Court. Dated this 10th day of July, 2014. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ‐ 3 ‐ 

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?