State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Ripley et al
ORDER granting 5 MOTION to dismiss case on all claims against Defendant Steve Dean. 20 MOTION to enforce order/judgment (Settlement Agreement) filed by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company terminated. 22 MOT ION to deposit/invest funds Into Court filed by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company terminated. Steve Dean (Guardian and Next Friend for the minors G.P. and J.P.) terminated. Signed on 12/8/2017 by District Judge Roseann Ketchmark. (Stout, Courtney)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
STATE FARM MUTUAL
BRETTON B. RIPLEY, et al.
Before the Court is Defendant Steve Dean’s Motion to Dismiss filed on April 11, 2017.1
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Dean’s Motion to Dismiss (doc. 5) is
GRANTED as to dismissal of claims against Defendant Dean.
On December 12, 2012, Defendant Bretton Ripley drove Mary Webb’s vehicle, while
Mary Webb was a passenger in the vehicle. (Doc. 1.) Ripley and Webb were involved in a
motor vehicle accident from which Mary Webb died. (Id.) Defendant Dean is representing
Webb’s minor children in a wrongful death action in state court.
At issue in this Order is whether the Court has jurisdiction over the claims against
Defendant Dean.2 The Complaint identifies Plaintiff as a resident of Illinois and Defendant Dean
as a resident of Missouri.
(Doc. 1.) Plaintiff claims jurisdiction exists based on diversity of
citizenship and seeks declaratory relief. (Id.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332, “[t]he district courts
In light of the parties’ settlement agreement, the Court previously found Defendant Steve
Dean’s Motion to Dismiss moot (doc. 12). However, due to disagreements between parties regarding the
settlement, the Motion to Dismiss (doc. 5) is no longer moot.
Defendant Dean’s Motion to Dismiss (doc. 5) broadly moved to dismiss the case for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. However, the claims against Defendant Dean and Defendant Ripley are
distinct in that Plaintiff seeks a declaration of rights declaring Mary Webb’s automobile insurance policy
invalid; therefore, Plaintiff has no duty to defend or indemnify Defendant Ripley. These claims are
measured by different amounts. As discussed here, Defendant Dean’s claims are measured by the policy
limits whereas Defendant Ripley’s claims are measured by the likely cost of a defense. Because the
parties only argue the jurisdictional amount with respect to Defendant Dean, the Court will only take up
the jurisdictional amount as it amounts to Defendant Dean. The parties do not address whether the Court
has supplemental jurisdiction of Defendant Dean’s claims based on Defendant Ripley’s claims. However,
even if supplemental jurisdiction existed, the Court would decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction of
Defendant Dean’s claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs.” Plaintiff, as the party invoking the
Court’s jurisdiction, must present facts supporting jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence. Schubert v. Auto Owners Inc. Co., 649 F.3d 817, 822 (8th Cir. 2011). In particular,
Plaintiff must show the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs.
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The sum claimed in the complaint by the plaintiff is usually dispositive.
Schubert, 649 F.3d at 822. However, that sum does not control where, from the complaint, it
appears to a legal certainty the plaintiff’s claim is actually for less than the jurisdictional amount.
Id. See Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Universal Crop Protection Alliance, LLC, 620 F.3d 926, 932 (8th
Cir. 2010) (“a complaint that alleges the jurisdictional amount in good faith will suffice to confer
jurisdiction, but the complaint will be dismissed if it ‘appear[s] to a legal certainty that the claim
is really for less than the jurisdictional amount’”).
Here, upon review of the Complaint (doc. 1), the policy limits in the insurance policy are,
to a legal certainty, unable to satisfy the jurisdictional amount. See Hartford Ins. Co. of the
Midwest v. Wyllie, 2005 WL 902776, * 2 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 28, 2005) (“If the substance of the
declaratory judgment seeks to determine whether an insurance policy itself is valid, then the
policy limit is, essentially, the value of the object of the litigation”); Scottsdale Ins. Co., 620 F.3d
at 932 (“policy limits are relevant to determining the amount in controversy when the validity of
the entire policy is at issue”).
Therefore, because the suit at issue seeks a declaratory judgment to determine the validity
of an insurance policy, the value of the litigation is the policy limits. The policy limits at issue
are $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 per occurrence. As a result, the suit at issue cannot, to
a legal certainty, meet the requirement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) for federal jurisdiction as
to claims against Defendant Dean.
Accordingly, Defendant Steve Dean’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED as to claims
against Defendant Dean. In light of the Court’s ruling, Plaintiff’s Motion to Enforce Settlement
Agreement (doc. 20) and Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Deposit Money into Court (doc. 22) are
denied as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Roseann A. Ketchmark
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DATED: December 8, 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?