MYERS v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE R. BARCLAY SURRICK ON 8/21/2017. 8/21/2017 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED AND FAXED BY CHAMBERS.(sg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE
AUGUST 21 , 2017
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 4.) For the
following reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion will be denied.
On September 2, 2015, Plaintiff Kathleen Meyers suffered serious injuries as a result of
an automobile accident with an underinsured motorist. The underinsured motorist was
determined to be at fault, and the underinsured motorist’s insurance company provided Plaintiff
the maximum liability coverage, in the amount of $15,000. (Compl. ¶ 9, Notice of Removal Ex.
A, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff suffered harm in excess of $15,000, and therefore filed a claim for
underinsured motorist benefits with her insurance provider, Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company. (Id. ¶ 11.) Defendant denied Plaintiff’s claim for underinsured
motorist benefits. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of
Philadelphia County, asserting two claims against Defendant: recovery of the underinsured
motorist benefits (Count I), and bad faith pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8371 (Count II).
On August 4, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court. Defendant asserts that this
Court has diversity jurisdiction over the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. On August 10, 2017,
Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand and Answer to Defendant’s Notice of Removal.
(Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 4.) On August 11, 2017, Defendant filed a Response and
Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion. (ECF No. 7.)
“[A]ny civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United
States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the
district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such
action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A defendant may remove a civil action to a district
court in cases where “the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive
of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
Removal statutes “are to be strictly construed against removal and all doubts should be resolved
in favor of remand.” In re Briscoe, 448 F.3d 201, 217 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Batoff v. State
Farm Ins. Co., 977 F.2d 848, 851 (3d Cir. 1992)).
Plaintiff argues that this case does not meet the amount in controversy requirement
because she seeks less than $75,000 in damages. Plaintiff contends that although the Complaint
seeks damages “in [an] amount greater than $50,000,” the actual amount in controversy “while
potentially greater than $50,000, is less than $75,000.” (Mot. to Remand 3.) Defendant argues
that a reasonable reading of the Complaint demonstrates that Plaintiff seeks to recover at least
$100,000 in damages. Defendant contends that the amount in controversy requirement is met
“based upon the aggregate amount of Plaintiff’s claims against State Farm in excess of $100,000
plus attorney’s fees and punitive damages since each Count (I-II) states a district [sic] cause of
action against State Farm.” (Notice of Removal ¶ 8.)
In determining whether a case meets the amount in controversy requirement, the Third
Circuit has held that “the amount in controversy is not measured by the low end of an openended claim, but rather by a reasonable reading of the value of the rights being litigated.” Angus
v. Shiley Inc., 989 F.2d 142, 146 (3d Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). A district court must
“properly ma[ke] an independent appraisal of the value of the claim” based on the allegations in
the complaint, if “the complaint does not limit its request for damages to a precise monetary
amount.” Id.; see also Samuel-Bassett v. Kia Motors America, Inc., 357 F.3d 392, 398 (3d Cir.
2004) (“In removal cases, determining the amount in controversy begins with a reading of the
complaint filed in the state court.”). A district court must remand a case to state court “if it
appears to a legal certainty that the plaintiff cannot recover the jurisdictional amount.”
Frederico v. Home Depot, 507 F.3d 188, 197 (3d Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original); see also
Samuel-Bassett, 357 F.3d 397 (“[T]he rule for determining whether the case involves the
requisite amount as whether from the face of the pleadings, it is apparent, to a legal certainty,
that the plaintiff cannot recover the amount claimed . . . .” (citation and internal quotation marks
Here, Plaintiff did not limit the amount of damages in the Complaint to less than $75,000.
Rather, Plaintiff did not allege that the amount in controversy is less than $75,000 until she filed
her response to the Notice of Removal and her Motion to Remand. As the case law requires, we
will only consider the value of her claims based on the allegations in the Complaint. 1
In Angus, 989 F.2d at 145, the Third Circuit held that “a plaintiff following removal
cannot destroy federal jurisdiction simply by amending a complaint that initially satisfied the
monetary floor.” The Third Circuit held that the plaintiff’s post-removal allegations “ha[d] no
legal significance,” and instead, the Court “consider[ed] only the amount in controversy as
alleged in [the plaintiff’s] complaint.” Id.; see also Lock-Horev v. K-Mart No. 7293, No. 146603, 2015 WL 4886429, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 17, 2015) (“When the damages claimed in a
plaintiff’s complaint meet the amount in controversy requirement (i.e., over $75,000), but the
plaintiff asserts after removal, without defendant’s agreement, that the damages are less than
In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she was struck by an underinsured motorist, and
that she suffered serious bodily injuries as a result of the collision. (Compl. ¶ 5.) These injuries
serious injuries in and about her head, body and extremities including, but not
limited to, injuries to her neck including left herniated disc at C6-7, cervical
radiculopathy, left shoulder, left side of body, left arm pain and numbness, midback pain and a severe shock to her nerves and nervous system some or all
injuries of which are or may be permanent. Plaintiff has suffered and may
continue to suffer great physical pain, serious and permanent injury and mental
anguish; Plaintiff has been and may continue to be prevented from attending to
Plaintiff’s usual activities, duties and occupations and has suffered and may
continue to suffer a loss of earnings and earning capacity and Plaintiff has
incurred and may continue to incur various medical expenses in and about an
effort to cure Plaintiff of the aforesaid injuries, which expenses may exceed the
minimum medical benefits and income loss benefits as defined by the
Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 Pa. C.S. Section
1701 et. seq.
(Id. ¶ 8.) In addition, Plaintiff’s Complaint states that “[t]he underinsured motorist coverage
applicable to Plaintiff’s claim in this matter is $25,000/$50,000.” (Id. ¶ 3.) In Count I, Plaintiff
seeks damages “in a sum in excess of Fifty Thousand Dollars” for recovery of the underinsured
motorist benefits. (Id. ¶ 13.) In addition to the underinsured motorist benefits, Plaintiff also
seeks damages in Count II pursuant to her bad faith claim “in a sum in excess of Fifty Thousand
Dollars.” (Id. ¶ 21.)
Based upon an independent appraisal of the allegations in these two counts, we can
determine to a legal certainty that Plaintiff can recover damages well in excess of $75,000.
$75,000, obviously to avoid federal jurisdiction, the Third Circuit has instructed that courts may
ignore the plaintiff’s asserted limitation to an amount less than $75,000.” (citations omitted));
Bailey v. J.B. Hunt Transp., Inc., No. 06-240, 2007 WL 764286, at *3 n.7 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 8,
2007) (“[I]t is clear that a plaintiff may not, after removal, defeat federal jurisdiction by
amending his or her pleadings or filing a stipulation to reduce the amount of damages originally
sought.” (citations omitted)). Therefore, since Plaintiff attempts to limit damages in the Motion
to Remand, rather than in the Complaint, we will not consider this limitation in our analysis.
Plaintiff’s Complaint undoubtedly satisfies the amount in controversy requirement. Accordingly,
we have jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand will be denied.
An appropriate Order follows.
BY THE COURT:
R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.
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