United States District Court, D. Nevada
July 22, 2014
THOMAS DUBE, as Parent and Legal Guardian of JORDAN DUBE, a minor, Plaintiffs,
JENNIFER HOGAN; JACOB HOGAN; WESTERN UNITED INSURANCE COMPANY dba AAA NEVADA INSURANCE COMPANY; and DOES 1-10; and ROE ENTITIES 11 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND [DOC. 6]
JENNIFER A. DORSEY, District Judge.
Plaintiff Thomas Dube sues defendants for injuries his son Jordan allegedly sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Defendant Western United Insurance Company dba AAA Nevada Insurance Company removed this case from Nevada State Court based on diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff now asks this Court to remand this case back to state court arguing that the case value does not meet the $75, 000 jurisdictional threshold for federal jurisdiction. As defendant has demonstrated that plaintiff values his damages at $100, 000, the motion to remand is denied.
A. Motion to Remand
"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction." There is a strong presumption against removal jurisdiction and "federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Therefore the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper. This burden is usually satisfied if the plaintiff claims a sum more than the threshold requirement. If the amount of plaintiff's claim is unclear, the defendant must prove that it is more likely than not that the jurisdictional amount has been met. Defendants may rely upon facts presented in the removal petition and any summary-judgment-type evidence that is related to the amount-in-controversy. Conclusory allegations do not overcome the presumption against removal jurisdiction or satisfy the defendant's burden of proving the case. The defendant does not need to predict the trier of fact's eventual award with certainty.
The federal procedure for removal of civil actions requires a defendant to include in its removal petition a "short and plain statement of the grounds for removal. Western United represents in its statement of removal that Plaintiff "demanded" the tender of "the full value of the UM policy, $100, 000.00, " and it attaches to its opposition to the motion for remand plaintiff's counsel's letter demanding the full $100, 000 policy limits. The Ninth Circuit has recognized that settlement letters may provide a reasonable estimate of a plaintiff's claim for removal jurisdiction purposes. Plaintiff's counsel's concession that "counsel does not intend to seek an award more than $75, 000" is of no consequence. As the United States Supreme Court long ago acknowledged in St. Paul Mercury Indemnity Co. v. Red Cab Co ., "a plaintiff may not defeat removal by subsequently changing his damage request, because post-removal events cannot deprive a court of jurisdiction once it has attached." At the time the case was removed, plaintiff was taking the position that this case is worth $100, 000, which satisfies the jurisdictional threshold and vests this Court with jurisdiction.
B. Request for Rule 11 Sanctions
Defendant's request for an award of fees and costs for having to respond to a motion it considers "frivolous" because the plaintiff values the case at $100, 000 is denied. Defendants have not even attempted to demonstrate that they satisfied the procedures for obtaining Rule 11 sanctions.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand [#6] and Defendant's request for Rule 11 Sanctions are both DENIED.