Dragos v. First American Property & Casualty Insurance Company et al
ORDERED that this case is remanded to Maricopa County Superior Court. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 7/25/17. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter)(EJA)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
First American Property & Casualty
Insurance Company, et al.,
Defendant First American removed this case on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
Plaintiff filed a motion for remand, which is fully briefed. No party requests oral
The appraised loss amount in this case was over $90,000, but Defendant tendered
payment of approximately $76,000 shortly before the case was removed.
counsel assert that they were not informed that their client had tendered payment before
they filed the removal papers.
For a federal court to exercise removal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1446, the
amount in controversy must “exceed the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest
and costs.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Courts “strictly construe the removal statute against
removal jurisdiction.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “The
strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the
burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id.
A removing defendant “must provide evidence establishing that it is more likely
than not that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75,000].” Sanchez v. Monumental Life
Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996) (quotation marks omitted). A defendant
cannot establish removal jurisdiction by speculation and conjecture. Ibarra v. Manheim
Invs., Inc., 775 F.3d 1193, 1197 (9th Cir. 2015). Defendant agrees that some $76,000 of
the appraisal amount has been paid.
The mere possibility of a punitive damages award is insufficient to prove that the
amount in controversy requirement has been met. Burk v. Med. Sav. Ins. Co., 348 F.
Supp. 2d 1063, 1069 (D. Ariz. 2004). Plaintiff’s complaint does not specify an amount of
punitive damages sought, and Plaintiff’s counsel asserts that he has made an overall
settlement demand of $65,000. The Court concludes that the claim for punitive damages
does not satisfy the amount in controversy requirement.
Attorneys’ fees are part of the amount in controversy “if authorized by statute or
contract,” Kroske v. U.S. Bank Corp., 432 F.3d 976, 980 (9th Cir. 2005), but the ultimate
amount of recoverable fees in this case is speculative, and such speculation cannot
establish the jurisdiction of this Court. See Ibarra, 775 F.3d at 1197.
The Court will not award attorneys’ fees for the removal and remand. The Court
concludes that remand could have been accomplished through a reasonable conference
between the attorneys after the checks had been received and the removal papers had
been filed. The motion to remand and related briefing were entirely unnecessary.
IT IS ORDERED that this case is remanded to Maricopa County Superior Court.
Dated this 25th day of July, 2017.
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?