United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
JANENE L. PLUNKETT, Plaintiff,
ILLINOIS FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
ORDER ON MOTION TO REMAND
L. Pryor United States Magistrate Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand (Dkt. 6). The motion was referred to the undersigned
for ruling. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand (Dkt. 6) is DENIED.
April 9, 2013, Plaintiff was struck by a vehicle while she
was walking across the intersection of Grant Avenue and
Indiana State Roads 32 and 47 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. She
suffered severe physical injuries. Plaintiff then brought
suit against Nancy J. Williamson, the driver of the vehicle
that struck her, and claimed damages in excess of $100, 000.
Plaintiff ultimately settled her claim against Ms. Williamson
for $74, 120.43. After settling her claim against the driver,
Plaintiff sought to recover from her own insurance company,
Illinois Farmers Insurance Company (Defendant), pursuant to
the under insured provision of her insurance policy, which
she alleges provided under-insured coverage up to $100, 000.
Defendant refused to pay any amount on the grounds that there
was no coverage.
Plaintiff brought this declaratory action in Indiana state
court to recover the difference between the policy limit and
the settlement amount. On February 1, 2018, the Defendant
removed the action to federal court on the grounds of
diversity jurisdiction (Dkt. 1). On February 26, 2018, the
Plaintiff filed this Motion to Remand arguing that the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction and thus should be remanded
to state court.
federal removal statue permits a defendant to remove a civil
action from state court when a district court has original
jurisdiction over the action. Micrometl Corp. v. Tranzact
Techs., Inc., 656 F.3d 467, 470 (7th Cir. 2011); see
also, 18 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal court has
original jurisdiction for all civil cases where the action is
between citizens of different states and “the amount in
controversy is greater than $75, 000, exclusive of interest
and costs.” Micrometl Corp., 656 F.3d at 470;
see also 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The party
invoking federal jurisdiction has the burden of establishing
that at the time it filed its notice of removal both
diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy
requirements were met. Schimmer v. Jaguar Cars,
Inc., 384 F.3d 402, 404 (7th Cir. 2004); Tylka v.
Gerber Products, 211 F.3d 445, 448 (7th Cir. 2000).
diversity jurisdiction, this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction and must remand this case to state court.
See Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514
(2006); Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v. Sadowski, 441 F.3d
536, 543 (7th Cir. 2006). Because this is a jurisdictional
question, the Court has “an independent obligation to
determine whether it has the authority to resolve this
dispute.” Webb v. Fin. Regulatory Auth, Inc.,
889 F.3d 853, 856 (7th Cir. 2018).
the Plaintiff argues that the Court lacks jurisdiction over
this matter because the parties are not diverse and the
amount in controversy is not greater than $75, 000.
Seventh Circuit has directed courts to “interpret the
removal statue narrowly and presume that the plaintiff may
choose his or her forum. Any doubt regarding jurisdiction
should be resolved in favor of [remand].” Doe v.
Allied-Signal, Inc., 985 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993).
If it appears “at any time before final judgment that
the district court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, ”
the case must be remanded to state court. 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c); Townsquare Media, Inc. v. Brill, 652 F.3d
767, 768 (7th Cir. 2011).
Citizenship of the Parties
order for jurisdiction to be founded on diversity of
citizenship, there must be complete diversity-no plaintiff
can be a citizen of the same state as any defendant. 28
U.S.C. § 1332 (a). The parties agree that the Plaintiff
is a citizen of Indiana, but they disagree about the
citizenship of the Defendant. Relying on provisions of 28
U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441, the Plaintiff argues that
this is a “direct action” against Illinois
Farmers Insurance Company who is allegedly standing in the
shoes of the insured tortfeasor-Nancy J. Williamson-who was a
citizen of Indiana, thus defeating diversity.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, a corporation is deemed “to
be of a citizen of every State . . . by which it has
incorporated and of the State . . . where it has its
principal place of business.” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(c)(1). The statute contains the following exception:
[I]n any direct action against the insurer of a policy or
contract of liability insurance, whether incorporated or
unincorporated, to which action the insured is not joined as
a party-defendant, such insurer shall be deemed a citizen of
every state . . . which the insured is a citizen; every State
. . . by which the insurer has been ...