Lutz v. State Farm Mutual Autombile Insurance Company
ORDER: Plaintiff John Lutz's Motion to Remand (Doc. # 5 ) is GRANTED. The Clerk is directed to REMAND this case to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. After remand has been effected, the Clerk shall CLOSE THE CASE. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 12/1/2017. (KAK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 8:17-cv-2821-T-33MAP
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE
Plaintiff John Lutz’s Motion to Remand (Doc. # 5), which was
filed on November 29, 2017.
The Court grants the Motion and
remands this action to s t a t e c o u r t pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
On January 20, 2017, Lutz was involved in a car crash
Florida. (Doc. # 2 at ¶ 4).
Lutz was insured by Defendant
State Farm at the time of the accident under Policy number
E17670559. (Id. at ¶ 9).
On October 13, 2017,
Lutz filed a
Complaint against State Farm in state court “for damages
that exceed fifteen thousand $15,000 dollars.” (Id. at ¶ 1).
Lutz describes his injuries in the Complaint as “serious
and permanent injuries or his head, neck, body, back and
legs and aggravat[ion] of a pre-existing condition.” (Id. at
The Complaint also indicates that Lutz has incurred
medical expenses and has sustained a loss of earnings. (Id.
at ¶ 8).
State Farm removed the case on November 22, 2017, on
the basis of complete diversity of citizenship. (Doc. # 1).
In the Notice of Removal, State Farm indicates that it is
an Illinois insurance company organized under the laws of
the State of Illinois, and is thus a citizen of Illinois.
(Id. at ¶ 14).
The Notice of Removal also states that Lutz
“is a citizen of the State of Florida.” (Id. at ¶ 15).
As to the amount in controversy, State Farm alleges in
a conclusory manner that “this is a civil action in which
exclusive of interest and costs.” (Id. at ¶ 16). State Farm
highlights that the relevant insurance policy’s limits are
$100,000, that Lutz “sustained a comminuted fracture of the
medical bills. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 10, 12).
At this juncture,
Lutz has filed a Motion to Remand arguing that this Court
should reject State Farm’s assertions regarding the amount
things, that “the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs.” “If the
complaint, the court should look to the notice of removal and
may require evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at
the time the case was removed.” Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269
F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001). Further, if “damages are
establishing the jurisdictional amount by a preponderance of
the evidence.” Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1208
(11th Cir. 2007).
(Doc. # 2 at ¶ 1) (generally alleging damages exceeding
$15,000). In the Motion to Remand, Lutz suggests that the
only evidence of the amount in controversy is two competing
letters of counsel.
Lutz’s demand letter is discussed in
the Notice of Removal; however, it is not before the Court.
The Court gathers that Lutz demands an amount greater than
the jurisdictional minimum, but the medical bills described
in the demand letter amount to $34,854.30, which is far
less than the amount required for removal.
And, Lutz has
filed State Farm’s September 20, 2017, letter authored in
response to the presuit demand letter in which State Farm
offered to settle the case for $11,753.51. (Doc. # 5-1).
The letters of counsel do not convince the Court that
the jurisdictional amount is satisfied. See Standridge v.
1996)(holding that a pre-suit demand letter was “nothing
more than posturing by plaintiff’s counsel for settlement
purposes and cannot be considered a reliable indicator of
the damages plaintiff is seeking”).
The Court agrees with Lutz that State Farm has not met
its burden as to the amount in controversy requirement for
the removal of this case. The Court is aware that “district
reasonable inferences and need not suspend reality or shelve
common sense in determining whether the face of a complaint
Envtl. Mosquito Mgmt., Inc., No. 8:12-cv-2874-T-30EAJ, 2013
2013)(internal citations omitted). But, overall, the record
is devoid of evidence to suggest that Lutz’s damages from
The Court recognizes that Lutz has alleged “serious and
permanent injuries,” and “significant and permanent loss of
bodily function, or permanent injury within a reasonable
disfigurement.” (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 6-7).
However, the Court
has not been provided with sufficiently specific information
about these broad categories of damages to find that the
amount in controversy has been met. And, Lutz has described
these categories of damages in such a vague and inexact
manner that the Court would be required to engage in rank
For instance, Lutz seeks redress for lost wages, but
does not provide any earnings records or state the nature of
See Robinson v. Peck, No. 1:14-cv-1628-WSD,
2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159198, at *11-12 (N.D. Ga. Nov. 12,
2014)(granting motion to remand in slip and fall action
where plaintiff “allege[d] a generic scattershot list of
unspecified damages,” which included personal injury, pain
and suffering, mental anguish, loss of the capacity for the
earning capacity, incidental expenses, expenses for medical
treatment, future medical expenses and permanent injury.).
In a case such as this, where “plaintiff makes an
unspecified demand for damages in state court, a removing
defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that
the amount in controversy more likely than not exceeds the
. . . jurisdictional requirement.” Roe v. Michelin N. Am.
Inc., 613 F.3d 1058, 1061 (11th Cir. 2010).
above, State Farm falls short of meeting this burden.
Court, finding that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction,
remands this case to state court.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Plaintiff John Lutz’s Motion to Remand (Doc. # 5) is
The Clerk is directed to REMAND this case to state
court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) because this
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
After remand has been effected, the Clerk shall CLOSE THE
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers in Tampa, Florida,
this 1st day of December, 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?