Brennan v. Northfield Insurance Company
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER : IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Margaret Brennan's Motion to Add Party and Remand (Docket No. 9 ) is GRANTED, and this case is remanded to the Circuit Court of St. Charles County, State of Missouri. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court shall remand this action to the Circuit Court of St. Charles County. An appropriate Order of Remand will accompany this Order.. Signed by Magistrate Judge Terry I. Adelman on 7/8/13. (KKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
NORTHFIELD INSURANCE COMPANY,
Case No. 4:13CV1055 TIA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Margaret Brennan’s Motion to Add Party and
Remand (Docket No. 9). The parties have responded to the pending motion. The parties consented
to the jurisdiction of the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
On May 22, 2013, Plaintiff Margaret Brennan, a Missouri resident, filed an Amended Suit
in Equity against Defendant Northfield Insurance Company (“Northfield”), an Iowa corporation with
its principal place of business in Minnesota, in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County, Missouri,
seeking a garnishment against Northfield in the amount of $900,000.00 and statutory interest to
satisfy the judgment entered in favor of Plaintiff against David Ragan, the judgment debtor and
On June 5, 2013, Northfield removed the cause to this Court, invoking this Court’s diversity
jurisdiction. In the Motion to Add A Required Party and Remand, Plaintiff contends that the plain
language of § 379.200 requires this equitable garnishment action be filed against the judgment debtor
and his insurer. Plaintiff avers that David Ragan is a Missouri resident and so the joinder of Ragan
would destroy the diversity jurisdiction and consequently the Court would lack subject matter
jurisdiction over the underlying action. For the following reasons, Plaintiff’s argument is well taken,
and this matter should be remanded to state court
The undersigned finds that the coverage dispute between Plaintiff and Northfield can
satisfactorily be adjudicated in the equitable garnishment proceeding. Courts have consistently held
that §379.200 requires plaintiffs to join the judgment debtor in an equitable garnishment action filed
pursuant to this statute. See Glover v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 984 F.2d 259, 261 (8th Cir.
1993) (recognizing “the plain statutory command that the judgment debtor be joined in an action
under §379.200); Prendergast v. Alliance Gen. Ins. Co., 921 F. Supp. 653, 655 (E.D. Mo. 1996)
(holding that the clear language of Missouri Revised Statute § 379.200 requires that the plaintiff join
the judgment debtor in an equitable garnishment action); Haines v. Sentinel Ins. Co., 2009 WL
6489894, at *2 (W.D. Mo. Mar. 11, 2009) (finding judgment debtor is a necessary party-defendant
§ 379.200 action); Parsons v. Allstate Ins. Co., Cause No. 02-421-CV-W-FJG, slip op. at 7 (W.D.
Mo. Mar. 31, 2003) (remanding case because joinder of a non-diverse judgment debtor “is mandated
by § 379.200.”).1 David Ragan as the judgment debtor must be joined as a necessary party to the
instant equitable garnishment action. Mo. Rev Stat. § 379.200.
Consideration of the aforementioned factors persuades the Court that Plaintiff’s Motion to
Add Required Party and Remand should be granted and the instant action will be remanded inasmuch
as complete diversity of citizenship will be lacking, the Court lacks jurisdiction over the case.
Northfield’s alternative argument that Ragan should be treated as a nominal party whose
joinder does not destroy jurisdiction is unpersuasive. This Court has held that judgment debtors
are “necessary party-defendants to a § 379.200 claim. Demann v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co.,
Cause Number 4:12cv990ERW at 4 (ECF No. 35) (“[A]s a properly-joined insured, the defendant
destroys complete diversity in a § 379.200 equitable garnishment proceeding; the defendant
cannot be a nominal party whose residency can be ignored.”)
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Margaret Brennan’s Motion to Add Party and
Remand (Docket No. 9) is GRANTED, and this case is remanded to the Circuit Court of St. Charles
County, State of Missouri.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court shall remand this action to the
Circuit Court of St. Charles County.
An appropriate Order of Remand will accompany this Order.
Dated this 8th
day of July, 2013.
/s/ Terry I. Adelman
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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