White et al v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
NOTICE AND ORDER: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, shall file a memorandum and supporting evidence concerning subject matter jurisdiction within ten (10) days of the date of this Notice and Order, and that Plaintiffs shall either fil e a memorandum and supporting evidence regarding subject matter jurisdiction or a Motion to Remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction within ten (10) days after the filing of State Farms memorandum. Signed by Magistrate Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes on 10/10/2017. (LLH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
TINA WHITE, ET AL.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE
NOTICE AND ORDER
This is a civil action involving claims for damages allegedly sustained by Tina White and
Gerald White (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), as a result of a vehicle theft and fire that occurred on or
about December 30, 2016.1 On or about September 21, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Petition for
Damages against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) in the
Nineteenth Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana.2 The
matter was removed to this Court by State Farm on October 6, 2017, on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).3 The Notice of Removal contains the following allegations
regarding the amount in controversy:
The plaintiffs’ petition alleges that they sustained damage due to a
vehicle theft and fire. State Farm is alleged to have provided
insurance coverage for the loss. In addition to seeking contract
damages for the loss under the insurance policy, plaintiffs allege that
State Farm is in “bad faith” in not paying the claim, and for other
alleged actions or inactions, and they allege that State Farm was
racially motivated. Thus, they seek consequential damages (mental
anguish, lost wages, loss of use, etc.), penalties (up to two times the
alleged consequential damages under La.R.S. 22:1973), and
attorney fees, above and beyond the alleged contractual damages.
Plaintiffs also appear to allege harassment and defamation, and they
R. Doc. 1 at ¶ 4; See, R. Doc. 1-2 at pp. 3-4, ¶¶ V-VIII.
R. Doc. 1-2.
R. Doc. 1 at ¶ 5.
seek damages in connection with those claims. The plaintiffs have
not precisely quantified their claimed damages in the complaint.
The state court Petition does not state that there is lack of jurisdiction
in the United States District Court, as it is required to do under
Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 893, if there is such
lacking. It does not state whether the damages exceed the Louisiana
Statutory minimum for right to jury trial - $50,000.00. At the time
of the filing of the removal, State Farm believes that plaintiffs seek
to recover contract damages, consequential damages, penalties, and
attorney fees totaling in excess of $75,000, based on the allegations
in the Petition.
This court has original jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 22
USC § 1332 in that it is a civil action wherein the amount in
controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, which
is derived from the characterization of damages and claims of the
plaintiffs cited above, and because the suit is between citizens of
different states and is, therefore, removable pursuant to 28 USC §
1441, et seq.4
It is not apparent from the face of Plaintiffs’ Petition for Damages or the Notice of Removal
that the Plaintiffs’ claims in this matter are likely to exceed $75,000. In the Petition for Damages,
Plaintiffs allege the following:
As a result of the foregoing breaches of contract and duty
and other acts of negligence and fault of the defendant,
Plaintiffs have experienced actual damages, including:
Mental anguish and aggravation due to the failure of
the defendant to promptly adjust the claim and for the
delay caused by defendant;
Mental anguish from racial profiling, harassment,
defamation, and accusations by State Farm
representatives concerning untrue allegations of
criminal activity and insurance fraud;
Financial damages and costs incurred due to the
financial burden placed on plaintiffs following the
loss of a vital vehicle;
Loss of use of a vehicle
All other damages that may be proven at trial.
R. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 4-5.
Plaintiffs are entitled to the full amount of their damages
caused by the covered peril under the policy of property
insurance, as well as additional damages caused by the delay
in properly adjusting this claim, mental anguish damages,
and other damages, inter alia, along with all penalties and
attorney’s fees recoverable under Louisiana law, as well as
judicial interest as allowed by law.5
Although Plaintiffs seek several items of damages, there is no indication of the amount in
controversy related to their alleged damages. State Farm asserts that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75,000 based upon “the characterization of damages and claims of the plaintiffs,” since
Plaintiffs seek to recover contract damages, consequential damages, penalties and attorney’s fees.6
However, State Farm has not provided any information regarding Plaintiff’s underlying insurance
policy or the proof of loss submitted by Plaintiffs to State Farm with respect to the vehicle theft
Although Plaintiffs have not filed a Motion to Remand, the Court sua sponte raises the
issue of whether it may exercise diversity jurisdiction in this matter, specifically, whether the
amount in controversy requirement has been met.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
(“State Farm”), shall file a memorandum and supporting evidence concerning subject matter
jurisdiction within ten (10) days of the date of this Notice and Order, and that Plaintiffs shall either
file a memorandum and supporting evidence regarding subject matter jurisdiction or a Motion to
Remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction within ten (10) days after the filing of State Farm’s
The supplemental memoranda shall be limited to ten (10) pages and shall
R. Doc. 1-2 at ¶¶ XXII-XXIII.
R. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 4 and 5.
specifically address whether there is diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Once the
Court has reviewed the supplemental memoranda, the Court will either allow the case to proceed
if jurisdiction is present or address the Motion to Remand filed by the Plaintiffs.
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 10, 2017.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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