Laster v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Filing 4

ORDER REMANDING CASE to the El Paso County District Court by Judge Christine M. Arguello on 3/31/2010. (erv, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO Judge Christine M. Arguello Civil Action No. 10-cv-00547-CMA STRACY LASTER, Plaintiff, v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant. ORDER REMANDING CASE This matter comes before the Court sua sponte. Plaintiff sued Defendant in El Paso County District Court, bringing various claims in connection with unpaid insurance benefits. In her complaint, she requests no specific monetary relief. (Doc. # 1-3.) Defendant then removed the case to this Court, asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332.1 As to diversity of citizenship, there is no dispute. Plaintiff is a citizen of Colorado; Defendant, of Illinois. As to the amount in controversy, however, there is a problem. The amount in controversy is ordinarily determined by the allegations of the 28 U.S.C. 1332(a) provides in part that "[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States . . ." 1 1 complaint or by the allegations in the notice of removal. See Laughlin v. Kmart Corp., 50 F.3d 871, 873 (10th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). However it is done, a removing defendant must "prove jurisdictional facts by a preponderance of the evidence." McPhail v. Deer & Co., 529 F.3d 947, 952-53 (10th Cir. 2008). The "preponderance of evidence" standard is not difficult to meet; yet, other than the complaint, Defendant provides no evidence. In its Notice of Removal, Defendant states that "Plaintiff has alleged that the UM insurance contract has unpaid benefits of $75,000, that her recoverable medical expenses exceed $50,000 . . ." (Doc. # 1, 2.) If Plaintiff has made such allegations, the Court has no proof of it. Her complaint contains no such figures. Defendant's matter-of-fact averment that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000-the jurisdictional minimum under 1332--will not do.2 As Defendant is aware, "removal statutes are to be strictly construed, and all doubts are to be resolved against removal." Fajen v. Foundation Reserve Ins. Co., Inc., 683 F.2d 331, 333 (10th Cir. 1982) (internal citation omitted). Accordingly, because Defendant has failed to prove the amount in controversy by a preponderance of evidence, the Court must remand this case to state court. See 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this action is REMANDED to the El Paso See Laughlin v. Kmart Corp., 50 F.3d 871, 873 (10th Cir.1995); Also see Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566-67 (9th Cir. 1992) ("If it is unclear what amount of damages the plaintiff has sought . . .then the defendant bears the burden of actually proving the facts to support jurisdiction, including the jurisdictional amount."); TIC-The Industrial Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., No. 09-cv-00763, 2009 WL 1796071, *1 (D. Colo. June 23, 2009) (noting the case had been remanded previously because of the removing defendant's "matter-of-fact averment"). 2 2 County District Court. DATED: March 31, 2010. BY THE COURT: ____________________________ CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO United States District Judge 3

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