United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER REMANDING CASE
P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Allstate removed this case to federal court on August 16,
2017. Because Allstate did not properly support its
invocation of this court's diversity jurisdiction, I
ordered Allstate to show cause why this action should not be
remanded to the state court. ECF No. 6. Allstate responded
that the plaintiff demanded the $15, 000 policy limit plus
consequential damages, emotional distress damages, punitive
damages, and attorneys' fees. ECF No. 8 at 2.
Allstate's counsel is "under the impression that
Plaintiffs counsel's perception of the amount in
controversy was well in excess of $75, 000."
Id. But Allstate offers nothing else to support its
contention that the jurisdictional minimum is satisfied.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Owen Equip.
& Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 (1978).
"A federal court is presumed to lack jurisdiction in a
particular case unless the contrary affirmatively
appears." Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes of
the Colville Res., 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir. 1989).
"Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any
doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance."
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
1992) (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592
F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979)). Thus, courts "strictly
construe the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction." Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566. "The
'strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction
means that the defendant always has the burden of
establishing that removal is proper." Id.
cases where a plaintiffs state court complaint does not
specify a particular amount of damages, the removing
defendant bears the burden of establishing, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy
exceeds [$75, 000]. Under this burden, the defendant must
provide evidence establishing that it is 'more likely
than not' that the amount in controversy exceeds that
amount." Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co.,
102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996). Broad allegations that the
jurisdictional amount is met, '"although attempting
to recite some 'magical incantation, ' neither
overcome[ ] the 'strong presumption' against removal
jurisdiction, nor satisf[y][the defendant]'s burden of
setting forth, in the removal petition itself, the underlying
facts supporting its assertion that the amount in controversy
exceeds" $75, 000. Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co.,
443 F.3d 676, 689 (9th Cir. 2006) (emphasis omitted) (quoting
Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567); see also Singer v. State
Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th Cir.
1997) ("[R]emoval cannot be based simply upon conclusory
allegations where the ad damnum is silent.") (internal
quotations and citation omitted).
a complaint is unclear as to the total amount of damages
sought, but alleges only upper or lower limits or types of
damages, a district court is free in its
preponderance-of-the-evidence analysis to make estimations of
the amount of damages that could be obtained consistent with
the vague wording of the complaint." Elliker v.
Contractors Bonding & Ins. Co.,
3:12-CV-00438-RCJ-WGC, 2013 WL 757621 at *1 (D. Nev. Feb. 27,
2013) (citing Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506
F.3d 696, 700-701 (9th Cir. 2007)). In making such analyses,
district courts can make "reasonable deductions,
reasonable inferences, or other reasonable extrapolations
from the pleadings to determine whether it is facially
apparent that a case is removable, " and "may use
their judicial experience and common sense in determining
whether the case stated in a complaint meets federal
jurisdictional requirements." Roe v. MichelinN. Am.,
Inc., 613 F.3d 1058, 1061-1062 (11th Cir. 2010)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Cf. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) ("Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief. . .
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense").
there is considerable doubt as to Allstate's right to
remove this case because it appears highly unlikely that the
amount in controversy exceeds this court's jurisdictional
threshold. The plaintiff demands the $15, 000 policy limit.
Even if that amount is trebled, the damages remain well below
the jurisdictional limit. Allstate offers no evidence about
(or even an estimate of) the consequential and emotional
distress damages the plaintiff seeks. Based on my judicial,
legal, and practical experience and common sense, Allstate
has not met its burden of establishing by a preponderance of
the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Roe, 613 F.3d at 1061-1062; Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Consequently, I must remand this case.
THEREFORE ORDERED the case is remanded to the state court
from which it was removed for all further proceedings. The