Hall et al v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company
ORDER AND REASONS granting 5 Motion to Remand to State Court. This matter is REMANDED to the Civil District Court for the Parish of Jefferson. Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter) (ecm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LONDA HALL, ET AL.
STATE FARM FIRE & CASUALTY CO.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand (Doc. 5). For the
following reasons, this Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs Londa Hall and Lawrence Joseph allege that they are insured
under a renter’s insurance policy issued by Defendant State Farm Fire &
Casualty Insurance Company. They allege that on December 30, 2016, their
property was damaged when water from an upstairs apartment leaked into
They aver that Defendant has improperly denied their claim
relative to this incident. They seek the value of their claim, damages, and
This action was removed from the 24th Judicial District
Court for the Parish of Jefferson on diversity grounds. Plaintiffs responded
with the instant Motion to Remand. Defendant opposes.
Generally, a defendant may remove a civil state court action to federal
court if the federal court has original jurisdiction over the action. 1 The burden
is on the removing party to show “[t]hat federal jurisdiction exists and that
removal was proper.” 2 When determining whether federal jurisdiction exists,
courts consider “[t]he claims in the state court petition as they existed at the
time of removal.” 3 “In making a jurisdictional assessment, a federal court is
not limited to the pleadings; it may look to any record evidence, and may
receive affidavits, deposition testimony or live testimony concerning the facts
underlying the citizenship of the parties.” 4 Removal statutes should be strictly
construed, and any doubt should be resolved in favor of remand. 5
LAW AND ANALYSIS
As noted above, Defendant invokes the Court’s diversity jurisdiction in
removing this action. In order for a matter to fall within the Court’s diversity
jurisdiction, the parties must be citizens of different states and the amount in
controversy must exceed $75,000. 6 The parties do not dispute that they are
citizens of different states; however, Plaintiffs argue that remand is warranted
because the amount in controversy requirement is not met.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002).
4 Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 249 (5th Cir. 1996).
6 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
responds, arguing that when Plaintiffs’ claims for general damages and
statutory penalties are considered, the $75,000 amount in controversy
requirement is met.
The Court must look to the face of Plaintiffs’ state court petition in
determining the amount in controversy. Where the amount in controversy is
ambiguous at the time of removal, a court may consider a post removal
stipulation to the extent that it attempts to determine the amount in
controversy as of the date of removal. 7 Additionally, where the complaint does
not state a specific amount in controversy, a district court is to apply the
following analytical framework in evaluating jurisdiction:
In such a situation, the removing defendant must prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75,000. The defendant may make this showing in either
of two ways: (1) by demonstrating that it is “facially apparent” that
the claims are likely above $75,000, or (2) “by setting forth facts in
controversy—preferably in the removal petition, but sometimes by
affidavit—that support a finding of the requisite amount.” 8
“If the defendant meets his burden of showing the requisite amount in
controversy, the plaintiff must then show that it is ‘legally certain’ that he will
recover less than $75,000.” 9
Defendant argues that the amount in controversy requirement is met in
this case when all the claims set forth in Plaintiffs’ state court petition are
considered. This Court disagrees. The amount in controversy is not facially
apparent from the state court petition, as Plaintiffs are not permitted to claim
specific amounts of damages.
The policy limits of the subject policy are
Davis v. State Farm Fire & Cas., 2006 WL 1581272, *3 (E.D. La. 2006).
Luckett v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 171 F.3d 295, 298 (5th Cir. 1999).
9 Fields v. Markel Ins. Co., No. 09-6815, 2010 WL 1664028, at *2 (E.D. La. Apr. 22,
Even when Plaintiff’s claims for loss of property, remediation
expenses, increased expenses, mental anguish and related hospitalization,
consequential damages, and statutory penalties are considered, there is
insufficient evidence on the record to find that the amount in controversy is
Plaintiff’s petition does not establish the amount of these losses;
accordingly, the court may turn to summary judgment type evidence to
establish the amount in controversy. 10
In an effort to convince this Court that Plaintiff’s emotional distress
damages might exceed the amount in controversy requirement, Defendant
cites to a series of cases wherein emotional distress damages were awarded in
cases involving flooded residences. What Defendant does not note, however, is
that these cases neither involve the adjustment of flood claims nor have
insurers as parties. 11 Accordingly, they do not support the emotional damages
used in Defendant’s amount in controversy calculations. As a result, this Court
finds that there is insufficient evidence to determine that the amount in
controversy is met. Accordingly, remand of this action is warranted.
Anderson v. Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack, Inc., No. 08-3861, 2009 WL 1269069, at
*1 (E.D. La. May 6, 2009)
11 Carnaggio v. Cambre, 84 So. 3d 631 (La. App. 5 Cir 2011) (involving suit against
owner of servient estate relative to a servitude of passage to drain sewerage); Boudreaux v.
State, Dept. of Transp. and Dev., 906 So. 2d 695 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2005) (involving suit by
flood victims against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
alleging that defective bridge design caused flooding); Shubert v. Tonti Development Corp.,
30 So.3d 977 (La. App. 5 Cir. 2009) (involving suit between tenant and landlord relative to
damages sustained in a fire); Holzenthal v. Sewerage & Water Bd. of New Orleans, 950
So.2d 55 (involving action between sewerage and water board and homeowners for damage
caused during drainage construction project).
For the forgoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand (Doc. 5) is
GRANTED. This matter is REMANDED to the Civil District Court for the
Parish of Jefferson.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 11th day of July, 2017.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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