Lee v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company

Filing 8

ORDER signed by Judge Lawrence K. Karlton on 06/20/2006 ORDERING that the case is REMANDED to the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of Shasta. ***Civil Case Terminated. CASE CLOSED. (cc Shasta County Superior Court, Case No. 157077).(Duong, D)

Download PDF
Lee v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company Doc. 8 Case 2:06-cv-01207-LKK-KJM Document 8 Filed 06/21/2006 Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 v. RELIANCE STANDARD LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant. / ROBERT LEE, Plaintiff, ORDER NO. CIV. S-06-1207 LKK/KJM UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA This matter is before the court on the petition of defendant Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company ("defendant") for removal predicated upon the court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. 1332. This court has an independent duty to ascertain its jurisdiction and may remand sua sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). Having invoked the removal statute, defendant bears the burden of establishing this court's jurisdiction. See Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). As explained below, defendant has failed to meet 1 Dockets.Justia.com Case 2:06-cv-01207-LKK-KJM Document 8 Filed 06/21/2006 Page 2 of 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 this burden. Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity of citizenship among the parties, as well as a minimum amount in controversy of over $75,000. See id. While it appears that diversity of citizenship is satisfied, defendant has not met its burden of demonstrating that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Plaintiff, Robert Lee, filed a complaint on April 19, 2006 in Shasta County Superior Court alleging two causes of action relating to his coverage under a disability policy issued by defendant. Nowhere in the complaint does plaintiff assign a value to the relief he seeks. "Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75,000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Insurance Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003); see Sanchez v. Monumental Life Insurance Co., 95 F.3d 856, 860 (9th Cir. 1996). Defendant asserts that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 because "plaintiff seeks contract damages under the subject disability policy to age 65, damages for bodily injury, anxiety, worry, mental and emotional distress, as well as attorneys fees, litigation costs, prejudgment interest, and punitive damages." Not. of Removal at 2:13-17. Defendant has failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold. 2 Case 2:06-cv-01207-LKK-KJM Document 8 Filed 06/21/2006 Page 3 of 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 First, defendant fails to discuss the specific amount of damages that plaintiff may claim. "[S]peculative argument regarding the potential value of the award is insufficient" to establish the amount in controversy. Conrad Associates v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 994 F.Supp. 1196, 1198 (N.D. Cal. 1998) (citing Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992)). Second, defendant has failed to provide adequate analysis as to why this court should consider these specific damages in calculating the amount in controversy. In short, the court has no way of assessing whether or not these damages will in fact, exceed $75,000.00. "Because the `removal statutes are strictly construed against removal,' Libhardt v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979), generally speaking doubts about removal must be resolved in favor of remand." Dodd v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co., 688 F. Supp. 564, 566 (E.D. Cal. 1988); see Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090. Since defendant has not adequately established the amount in controversy in the case at bar, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and must remand the case. See 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). For the foregoing reasons, the above-captioned case is REMANDED to the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of Shasta County. IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: June 20, 2006 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?