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Kline-Feliciano v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 21, 2014

LAKISHIA KLINE-FELICIANO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER

GLORIA M. NAVARRO, Chief District Judge.

Pending before the Court is the Motion to Remand filed by Plaintiff Lakishia Kline-Feliciano. (ECF No. 6). Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company filed a response in opposition, (ECF No. 10), and Plaintiff filed a reply, (ECF No. 11). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the instant Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

This action centers upon Plaintiff's allegations that Defendant, her insurer, breached the underinsured motorist provisions of her policy by refusing to tender the policy limit following an auto accident that occurred on February 7, 2013. (Compl. 3:15-4:3, ECF No. 1-1). This case was originally filed in Clark County District Court on February 10, 2014. ( Id. at 1). On March 21, 2014, Defendant removed the case, citing this Court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Pet. for Rem. 2:4-8, ECF No. 1).

Plaintiff's Complaint sets forth three causes of action, for which she seeks to recover: (1) a sum in excess of $10, 000 for past and future medical expenses; (2) a sum in excess of $10, 000 for pain, suffering, mental distress, anguish, and fear; (3) unspecified amounts for loss of earning capacity, loss of life-enjoyment, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages; and (4) prejudgment interest. (Compl. 7:11-20, ECF No. 1-1). Plaintiff now requests that this case be remanded back to Clark County District Court.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Removal statutes are strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Id. (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979)). "Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003).

III. ANALYSIS

This Court has original jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the amount in controversy: (1) exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000; and (2) is between citizens of different States. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). As discussed infra, Defendant fails to establish that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, and therefore the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion.

In its Response, Defendant asserts that this case satisfies the amount in controversy requirement because Plaintiff has: (a) indicated that her medical costs and lost wages exceed $14, 000; (b) claimed that her pain and suffering damages exceed $10, 000; (c) alleged a loss of earning capacity; (d) requested attorneys' fees; and (e) demanded punitive damages. (Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 11). The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.

a. Medical Costs and Lost Wages

Defendant claims that Plaintiff is seeking at least $14, 000 in medical costs and lost wages. In support of this assertion, Defendant refers to a letter, sent by Plaintiff's counsel on August 30, 2013, stating that Plaintiff had incurred $10, 645 in treatment expenses from five medical providers and claiming her lost wages totaled $767.60. (Ex. C to Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 10-3). Additionally, Defendant points to a letter from chiropractor Keven Bahoora, dated August 9, 2013, estimating the cost of Plaintiff's remaining treatment to be $2, 430. (Ex. B to Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 10-2). Plaintiff does not dispute the authenticity of these documents or the validity of their contents; therefore the Court finds that Defendant has provided sufficient evidence to show that Plaintiff is seeking at least $13, 842.60 for her medical costs and lost wages.

b. Pain and Suffering

Defendant argues that it is apparent from the Complaint that Plaintiff is seeking at least $10, 000 for pain and suffering. Indeed, as the Complaint specifically requests "a sum in excess of $10, 000.00 as and for general damages for pain, suffering, mental distress, anguish and fear, " (Compl. ...


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