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Mitchell v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 30, 2019

STACI MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiff Staci Mitchell sued her insurer, Defendant Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, for allegedly failing to adequately reimburse her for damages she incurred in a car accident. (ECF No. 1-1.) Defendant removed the case to this Court. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand because the amount in controversy does not exceed the $75, 000 jurisdictional threshold.[1] (ECF No. 7.) Because Defendant has failed to carry its burden to show the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion and remand this case to the Second Judicial District Court.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following allegations come from the Complaint. (ECF No. 1-1.)

         Plaintiff alleges she is covered by a car insurance policy provided by Defendant (the “Policy”). (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff was injured in a car accident that occurred on November 28, 2017. (Id.) While she filed a claim with Defendant for her injuries, and complied with the Policy, Defendant failed to timely investigate, evaluate, and pay her claim. (Id. at 4-5.)

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in the Second Judicial District Court in and for the County of Washoe (ECF No. 1-1 at 2), and Defendant removed based on diversity jurisdiction (ECF No. 1 at 2).

         Plaintiff asserts the following claims in the Complaint: (1) breach of contract; (2) bad faith and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) violation of the trade practices act NRS § 686A.310, NAC § 686A, et seq. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5-7.) Plaintiff seeks actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees. (Id. at 8.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; see also, 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. See 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. See Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006).

         To 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. See 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. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004).

         Under a 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. at 1117 (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. See Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090 (citation omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff does not request a specific amount of damages in the Complaint. (See generally ECF No. 1-1.) Thus, Defendant must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied.[2]See Valdez, 372 F.3d at 1117. Defendant has not made this showing. The Court addresses ...


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