United States District Court, D. Nevada
MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case comes before the Court through Defendant State Farm
Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's (“State
Farm”) Petition for Removal (“Petition”).
(ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff filed this action in the Eighth
Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada, after
allegedly being rear ended by a drunk driver. (ECF No. 5-2 at
3-4.) Plaintiff brings claims for breach of contract, breach
of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation
of NRS § 686A.310. (Id. at 4-7.) State Farm
removed this action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). On July 11, 2018, the Court
issued an order to show cause why this action should not be
remanded for failure to meet the amount in controversy. (ECF
No. 11.) Defendant responded (ECF No. 14) and Plaintiff
replied (ECF No. 16). For the reasons discussed herein, this
case is remanded for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having
subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by
the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, §
2, cl. 1; e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in
state court may be removed to federal court if the federal
court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit at
commencement of the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
However, courts strictly construe the removal statute against
removal jurisdiction, and “[f]ederal 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) (emphasis
added). The party seeking removal bears the burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed
Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006).
establish subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to diversity
of citizenship under § 1332(a), the party asserting
jurisdiction must show: (1) complete diversity of citizenship
among opposing parties and (2) an amount in controversy
exceeding $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Where it is not
facially evident from the complaint that $75, 000 was in
controversy at the time of removal, a defendant seeking
removal must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
the amount in controversy requirement is met. Valdez v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004).
preponderance of the evidence standard, a removing defendant
must “provide evidence establishing that it is
‘more likely than not' that the amount in
controversy exceeds” the jurisdictional minimum.
Id. (citations omitted). As to the kind of evidence
that may be considered, the Ninth Circuit has adopted the
“practice of considering facts presented in the removal
petition as well as any ‘summary-judgment-type evidence
relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of
removal.'” Matheson v. Progressive Specialty
Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d
373, 377 (9th Cir. 1997)). Conclusory allegations are
insufficient. Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090 (citation
Farm argues that despite Plaintiff's claim for $14, 773
in past medical bills, Plaintiff's counsel sent a letter
seeking a settlement of $74, 900. (ECF No. 14 at 3.) Plaintiff
does not dispute this fact but clarifies that the letter made
a demand for damages and that this demand was below
the required amount in controversy. (ECF No. 16 at 2.)
Plaintiff does, however, dispute Defendant's speculation
that Plaintiff would ask for or stipulate to an additional
$50, 000 for punitive damages and attorney fees.
(Id. at 3 (quoting ECF No. 14 at 4).) This casts
doubt on whether the amount in controversy has been
established for purposes of diversity jurisdiction, and
“[w]here doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a
case should be remanded to state court.”
Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090. In following Ninth
Circuit jurisprudence requiring that the removal statute be
strictly construed against removal, the Court finds remand to
Clerk is instructed to remand this action to the Eighth
Judicial District Court in and for Clark County.
The Court cannot consider the letter or
questionnaire provided by State Farm (ECF Nos. 14-2, 14-3)
because neither exhibit was authenticated. See
Singer, 116 F.3d at 377; see also Orr, 285 F.3d
at 773. However, even if the Court considered the letter from
Plaintiff seeking settlement, the letter requests an amount
below the amount in controversy and does not identify whether
that amount encompasses compensatory and punitive damages
plus attorney fees or whether it encompasses only
compensatory damages stemming from Pura's physical