United States District Court, D. Nevada
For Michael Hannon, Carrie Hannon, Plaintiffs: Brian David Nettles, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Brian D. Nettles, Ltd., Henderson, NV; Christian Morris, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nettles Law Firm, Henderson, 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 Hannon v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, (2:14-cv-1623-GMN-NJK) On October 2, 2014, the Court ordered that Defendant show cause as to why this case should not be remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 4). On October 16, 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 allegations by Plaintiffs Michael Hannon and Carrie Hannon that Defendant, their insurer, breached the underinsured motorist provisions of their policy by refusing to tender the limit of $25, 000 per person/$50, 000 per incident following an auto accident that occurred in a parking lot on July 30, 2013. (Compl. 3:6-11, ECF No. 1-1). This case was originally filed in Clark County District Court on August 22, 2014. (Id. at 1). On October 2, 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).
The Complaint sets forth six causes of action, upon which Plaintiffs seek to recover amounts in excess of $10, 000 each for general damages and loss of consortium. (Compl. 9:6-7). Plaintiffs also seek recovery in unspecified amounts for lost wages, attorneys' fees, and punitive damages. (Id. at 9:8-13).
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 Plaintiffs: (a) might argue that Mr. Hannon's medical costs total in excess of $47, 056.07; (b) seek damages for emotional distress; (c) request attorneys' fees; and (d) demand punitive damages. (Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 9). The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.
a. Medical Costs
In its Petition for Removal, Defendant asserts, " Although not stated in the Complaint, it is believed that Mr. Hannon's [sic] claims to have incurred past medical expenses of $47, 056.07 as a result of the collision." (Pet. For Rem. 2:15-16, ECF No. 1). However, Defendant fails to support this estimate with any evidence whatsoever. Thus, it is unclear to the Court whether Defendant's valuation has any factual basis, or if it was simply conjured out of thin air. Therefore the Court finds that Defendant has ...