Admiral Insurance Company v. Aspen Insurance UK Limited et al

Filing 12

ORDER denying 4 Plaintiff's Motion to Remand to State Court. Signed by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on 7/24/2017. (acc)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 ADMIRAL INSURANCE COMPANY, a corporation, 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No.: 17-cv-00703-AJB-WVG v. ASPEN INSURANCE UK LIMITED, a corporation; ASPEN SPECIALTY INSURANCE, a corporation; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, (Doc. No. 4) Defendants. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Admiral Insurance Company’s (“Plaintiff”) motion to remand. (Doc. No. 4.) Defendants Aspen Insurance UK Limited and Aspen Specialty Insurance (collectively referred to as “Defendants”) filed an opposition on May 16, 2017, (Doc. No. 7), and Plaintiff filed a reply on May 23, 2017, (Doc. No. 8). Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1, the Court finds the motion suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument. For the reasons set forth more fully below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to remand. BACKGROUND On February 24, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action in San Diego Superior Court, 1 17-cv-00703-AJB-WVG 1 alleging ten causes of action against Defendants. (Doc. No. 1-2 at 7–30.) Plaintiff seeks 2 reimbursement of defense fees and costs incurred in defending an entity that Plaintiff 3 contends is mutually insured by both Defendants. (Doc. No. 4-1 at 2.) Thus, Plaintiff’s 4 lawsuit is an equitable-contribution action that arises from an underlying construction- 5 defect action entitled Wilshire Vermont Housing Partners, LP v. Taisei Construction 6 Corp., et al. (Los Angeles County Superior Court case number BC504178). (Id. at 3.) 7 On April 6, 2017, Defendants removed the case to this Court. (Doc. No. 1.) 8 Subsequently, on May 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present motion, its motion to remand to 9 state court. (Doc. No. 4.) In opposition, Defendants stated that if the Court was to have any 10 question whether or not the jurisdictional amount in controversy was satisfied that it should 11 allow Defendants to conduct limited jurisdictional discovery. (Doc. No. 7 at 9.) On June 12 16, 2017, the Court granted Defendants’ request. (Doc. No. 9.) Thereafter, Plaintiff 13 responded to the interrogatory. (Doc. No. 10.) 14 LEGAL STANDARD 15 “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction[,]” having subject matter 16 jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See Kokkonen 17 v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A defendant may remove a civil action 18 to federal court if the district court would have original jurisdiction over the matter or if 19 there is diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)–(b). Removal statutes are strictly 20 construed against removal. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). A 21 defendant seeking removal has the burden to establish that removal is proper and any doubt 22 is resolved against removability. Luther v. Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, 533 23 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2008). However, a plaintiff seeking remand has the burden to 24 prove that an express exception to removal exists. Breuer v. Jim’s Concrete of Brevard, 25 Inc., 538 U.S. 691, 698 (2003). 26 DISCUSSION 27 Plaintiff alleges that the instant action should be remanded because (1) Defendants’ 28 removal to federal court is based on purported conversations with Plaintiff’s counsel—the 2 17-cv-00703-AJB-WVG 1 substance of which is disputed; and (2) Defendants’ removal notice does not establish by 2 a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. (Doc. 3 No. 4-1 at 3–7.) Defendants retort that the evidence provided by them is sufficient to 4 demonstrate that it is “more likely than not” that Plaintiff’s intra-insurer claim against 5 Defendants exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. (Doc. No. 7 at 4.) Additionally, 6 Defendants requested that rather than have the matter remanded to state court and then 7 removed again once it could be purportedly established that the amount in controversy had 8 been satisfied, that the Court instead allow limited jurisdictional discovery. (Id. at 9.) 9 After reviewing the evidence proffered by both sides and the applicable law, the 10 Court found limited jurisdictional discovery appropriate, over Plaintiff’s objections, as 11 further discovery would help aid the Court in determining whether it has jurisdiction over 12 the present matter. (See generally Doc. No. 8 (see Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 13 443 F.3d 676, 691 (9th Cir. 2006) (holding that district courts may allow limited 14 jurisdictional discovery prior to remand to determine the amount in controversy in cases 15 where the amount has not been completely established); see also Laub v. U.S. Dept. of 16 Interior, 342 F.3d 1080, 1093 (9th Cir. 2003) (“Although a refusal to grant discovery to 17 establish jurisdiction is not an abuse of discretion when ‘it is clear that further discovery 18 would not demonstrate facts sufficient to constitute a basis for jurisdiction,’ discovery 19 should be granted when, as here, the jurisdictional facts are contested or more facts are 20 needed.”)). Thereafter, on July 3, 2017, Plaintiff responded to Defendants’ request and 21 stated that without waiving their general objections that the total defense costs paid as of 22 April 6, 2017, is $1,905,225.26. (Doc. No. 10 at 5.) 23 Based upon the foregoing, the Court finds that diversity jurisdiction has been 24 satisfied.1 See Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 25 26 27 28 1 The Court notes that neither party disputes that the parties are diverse as Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey, and Defendant Aspen UK is a foreign corporation with its principal place of business in London, England, 3 17-cv-00703-AJB-WVG 1 2003) (“Jurisdiction founded on [diversity] requires that the parties be in complete diversity 2 and the amount in controversy exceed $75,000.”). Accordingly, as it has been established 3 that it is more likely than not that the amount in controversy in the present matter exceeds 4 the $75,000 threshold, Plaintiff’s motion to remand is DENIED. 5 6 7 CONCLUSION For the reasons set forth more fully above, Plaintiff’s motion to remand is hereby DENIED. 8 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: July 24, 2017 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 and Defendant Aspen Specialty, is a North Dakota corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut. (Doc. No. 1 ¶¶ 6–8.) 4 17-cv-00703-AJB-WVG

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