Bostick v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
ORDER denying 11 Motion to Remand to State Court. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 7/27/2016. (KAK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
LISA N. BOSTICK,
Case No. 8:16-cv-1400-T-33AAS
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Lisa N.
Bostick’s Motion for Remand filed on June 29, 2016. (Doc. #
11). Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
filed its response on July 8, 2016. (Doc. # 14). For the
following reasons, the Court denies the Motion to Remand.
Factual Background and Procedural History
On or about November 13, 2013, Bostick was driving an
automobile in Hillsborough County, Florida and was struck by
a motor vehicle operated by Blair S. Alsup, a non-party to
this action. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 4). As a consequence of the
collision, Bostick allegedly suffered “bodily injury, . . .
pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish and loss of
capacity for the enjoyment of life.” (Id. at ¶ 6). When the
accident occurred, Bostick was insured by State Farm, and
Alsup was insured through Geico General Insurance Company.
(Id. at ¶¶ 7-8). Geico tendered the policy limits of $100,000,
which was accepted by Bostick as “full and final settlement
for the bodily injuries Alsup caused.” (Id. at ¶¶ 8-9).
Bostick contends this amount is insufficient compensation for
her injuries and argues State Farm is obligated to provide
additional relief under a provision in the insurance policy
extending “coverage for underinsured motorist benefits.” (Id.
at ¶ 7).
Bostick filed a civil action in Florida state court
against State Farm on February 9, 2016. (Doc. # 2).
predicating subject matter jurisdiction on complete diversity
of citizenship. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 4). In the Notice of Removal,
State Farm indicates it is a citizen of Illinois, as its
principal place of business is in Illinois, and its state of
incorporation is also Illinois. (Id. at ¶ 7). The Notice of
Removal recites Bostic’s statement made in her Complaint that
she is a “resident” of Florida. (Id. at ¶ 6).
As to the
amount in controversy, State Farm explains that “Plaintiff
claims to have incurred, to date, $257,315.95 in total medical
bills, with $98,699 plus liens outstanding.” (Id. at ¶ 9).
On June 29, 2016, Bostic filed a Motion to Remand, to
which State Farm responded on July 8, 2016.
(Doc. ## 11,
14). In addition, on July 20, 2016, the Court directed Bostic
to provide information regarding her citizenship, because
neither party addressed that matter in the Motion to Remand
and Response thereto. (Doc. # 18). The Court explained that
residency and citizenship are distinct concepts. (Id.).
July 26, 2016, Bostic filed a sworn Declaration indicating
that she maintains a Valrico, Florida, home as her permanent
indefinitely.” (Doc. # 19-1 at ¶ 4).
This statement and
others made in the Declaration convince the Court that Bostic
is a citizen of Florida for the purposes of discussing
diversity of citizenship.
“A defendant may remove a case filed in state court to
federal court ‘if the district courts of the United States
have original jurisdiction.’” Henry v. K-mart Corp., No.
8:10-cv-2105-T-33MAP, 2010 WL 5113558, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Dec.
9, 2010)(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)). “Original jurisdiction
exists if there is complete diversity of citizenship among
the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.”
Miller v. Bank of Am., No. 8:13-cv-1425-T-33AEP, 2013 WL
3805043, at *2 (M.D. Fla. July 19, 2013).
“Diversity is not judged ‘by simply looking at which
parties fall on which side of the ‘v.’’ More is required.”
James River Ins. Co. v. Arlington Pebble Creek, LLC, 118 F.
Supp. 3d 1302, 1306 (N.D. Fla. 2015)(citing Hedge Capital
Invest. v. Sustainable Growth Grp. Holdings LLC, 593 Fed.
Appx. 937, 941 (11th Cir. 2014)).
Complete diversity “means that no plaintiff may be a
citizen of the same state as any defendant.” James River Ins.
Co., 118 F. Supp. 3d at 1305. As explained above, Bostick is
a citizen of Florida. The Court must now examine State Farm’s
complete diversity are satisfied.
28 U.S.C § 1332(c) governs citizenship for corporate
entities. In particular,
a corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of
every State and foreign state by which it has been
incorporated and of the State or foreign state
where it has its principal place of business,
except that in any direct action against the
insurer of a policy or contract of liability
insurance, whether incorporated or unincorporated,
to which action the insured is not joined as a
party-defendant, such insurer shall be deemed a
citizen of . . . every State and foreign state of
which the insured is a citizen.
28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1)(emphasis added).
“Thus, a corporation is generally deemed to be a citizen
of every state it has been incorporated and where it has its
principal place of business.” Kenyon v. Fid. & Guar. Life
Ins. Co., No. 6:12-cv-951-Orl-36GJK, 2012 WL 4478983, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Sept. 11, 2012). However, where a direct action is
filed against a corporate insurer and the insured is not a
defendant, “the corporation is deemed to be a citizen of every
state of which the insured is a citizen.” Id.
Bostick contends this action should be remanded to state
court for lack of diversity jurisdiction given that Bostick
(the insured) is a citizen of Florida, thereby making State
Farm (the insurer) a Florida citizen. (Doc. # 11 at 4).
State Farm disagrees, and argues the instant action is
should be based solely on its principal place of business
(Illinois) and state of incorporation (Illinois). (Doc. # 1
at ¶ 7).
The direct-action exception was designed to “eliminate
the basis for diversity jurisdiction in states that allow an
injured third-party claimant to sue an insurance company for
payment of a claim without joining the company’s insured as
a party, where the insured would be a nondiverse party, even
though the insurance company would otherwise be diverse.”
Fortson v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 751 F.2d 1157,
1159 (11th Cir. 1985).
Courts have uniformly defined the term “direct
action” as used in this section as those cases in
which a party suffering injuries or damages for
which another is legally responsible is entitled to
bring suit against the other’s liability insurer
without joining the insured or first obtaining a
judgment against him.
breached the terms of the insurance agreement by failing to
tender compensation for “the full value of Plaintiff’s claim
for personal injuries” caused by Alsup. (Doc. # 2 at ¶ 12).
Therefore, Bostick brings this cause of action against her
own insurer, not the insurer of a liable third party. As such,
this case falls outside the governing definition of a direct
Moreover, claims for an insurer’s failure to honor
the terms of an insurance policy do not trigger the direct
action exception in 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). See Fortson, 751
F.2d at 1159. (citing Irvin v. Allstate Ins. Co., 436 F. Supp.
575, 577 (W.D. Okla. 1977)(An action by an insured against
his own insurer under uninsured motorist provisions of an
insurance policy is not a “direct action” within the meaning
of section 1332(c))).
Therefore, the Court determines that the requirements
for maintaining diversity jurisdiction are satisfied.
amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00, Bostic is a citizen
Bostick’s Motion for Remand is accordingly denied.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Plaintiff Lisa N. Bostick’s Motion for Remand (Doc. #
11) is DENIED.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers in Tampa, Florida, this
27th day of July, 2016.
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