United States District Court, D. Nevada
For Steven Rocha, Plaintiff: Ramzy P Ladah, LEAD ATTORNEY, Las Vegas Personal Injury, PLLC, Las Vegas, nv.
For State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Defendant: Jennifer Insley-Micheri, Ryan L Dennett, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Dennett Winspear, LLP, Las Vegas, NV.
Gloria M. Navarro, Chief United States District Judge.
Pending before the Court is the case of Rocha v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, (2:14-cv-1423-GMN-VCF). On September 3, 2014, the Court ordered that Defendant show cause as to why this case should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 4). On September 17, 2014, Defendant filed a Response. (ECF No. 9). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will remand this case to Clark County District Court.
This action centers upon Plaintiff Steven Rocha's allegations that Defendant State Farm, his insurer, breached the underinsured motorist provisions of his policy by refusing to tender the limit of $15, 000 following an auto accident that occurred on April 26, 2013. (Compl. 2:20-3:19, ECF No. 1-1). This case was originally filed in Clark County District Court on August 5, 2014. (Id. at 1). On September 3, 2014, Defendant removed the case, citing this Court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Pet. for Rem. 2:1-5, ECF No. 1).
The Complaint sets forth three causes of action, upon which Plaintiff seeks to recover general damages and punitive damages, each in excess of $10, 000, as well as unspecified amounts for special damages and attorneys' fees. (Compl. 7:1-8).
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).
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 remand this action.
In its Response, Defendant asserts that this case satisfies the amount in controversy requirement because Plaintiff: (a) might seek medical costs in excess of $42, 261; (b) might seek damages for emotional distress in excess of $80, 000; (c) has requested attorneys' fees; and (d) has demanded punitive damages. (Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 9). The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.
a. Medical Costs
Without providing any evidence, Defendant asserts, " Although not stated in the Complaint, it is believed that [Plaintiff] claims to have incurred medical expenses of $28, 261.00 as a result of the collision. Plaintiff also alleges ongoing injury as a result of the accident, as well as necessity for ongoing and future medical care in excess of $14, 000.00." (Def.'s Resp. 1:28-2:3, ECF No. 9). It is unclear how Defendant arrived at these particular amounts, as the Complaint states only that Plaintiff has suffered injuries " in an amount in excess of $10, 000." (Compl. 7:3, ECF No. 1-1). Because Defendant does not provide evidence to support its assertion or even state the basis for its belief that Plaintiff will seek these particular amounts, it has failed to demonstrate a likelihood that ...