Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Varela-Burciaga v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 5, 2019


          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1">[1');">1');">1');">1]


         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Remand [Doc. 7]. The Court, having considered the submissions, the relevant law, and being otherwise fully advised in the premises finds that the Motion is well taken and should be granted.


         This case arises from an October 6, 201');">1');">1');">16 automobile accident involving Plaintiff and Christopher Lucero. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 9]. At the relevant time, Plaintiff was insured by Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm). [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 9]. On December 28, 201');">1');">1');">17, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint in the Second Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County New Mexico, seeking compensatory damages against Mr. Lucero, whom she alleged negligently caused the accident. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 8-1');">1');">1');">14]. As to State Farm, Plaintiff alleged breach of contract and sought reformation of her auto insurance policies to include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 1');">1');">1');">10-1');">1');">1');">13]. In her Complaint, Plaintiff did not quantify the damages sought; nor did she identify the number of policies she sought to have reformed to include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 1');">1');">1');">10-1');">1');">1');">13].

         Plaintiff settled her claims with Mr. Lucero and the parties stipulated to his dismissal from the case. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 1');">1');">1');">16-20]. Once the claims against Mr. Lucero, who was a nondiverse party, were dismissed State Farm filed its Notice of Removal. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 2]. Plaintiff filed her Motion to Remand on November 1');">1');">1');">16, 201');">1');">1');">18, arguing that remand is appropriate because the requisite jurisdictional amount in controversy is not satisfied. [Doc. 7, pp. 3-7].


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1');">1');">1');">12(b)(1');">1');">1');">1), a defendant may seek dismissal of a lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. “Rule 1');">1');">1');">12(b)(1');">1');">1');">1) motions generally take one of two forms: (1');">1');">1');">1) a facial attack on the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations as to subject matter jurisdiction; or (2) a challenge to the actual facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction is based.” Ruiz v. McDonnell, 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">173');">299 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">173, 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">180 (1');">1');">1');">10th Cir. 2002) (citing Holt v. United States, 1');">1');">1');">1000');">46 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1000, 1');">1');">1');">1002-03 (1');">1');">1');">10th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1995)). Where a Rule 1');">1');">1');">12(b)(1');">1');">1');">1) motion constitutes a facial attack on the allegation of subject matter jurisdiction contained in the complaint, courts presume all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint to be true. Id. On the other hand, where a party attacks the facts themselves, “a court has ‘wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts.'” Stuart v. Colorado Interstate Gas Co., 71');">1');">1');">1 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1221');">1');">1');">1');">271');">1');">1');">1 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1221');">1');">1');">1, 1');">1');">1');">1225 (1');">1');">1');">10th Cir. 2001');">1');">1');">1) (citing Holt, 46 F.3d at 1');">1');">1');">1003).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. The Law Governing Removal

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1');">1');">1');">1441');">1');">1');">1(a), a defendant may remove a state civil action “to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending, ” if the federal district court has original jurisdiction over the matter. Given the federal court's role as a limited tribunal, there is a presumption against removal jurisdiction. Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 1');">1');">1');">1 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1284');">251');">1');">1');">1 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1284, 1');">1');">1');">1289 (1');">1');">1');">10th Cir. 2001');">1');">1');">1) (abrogated on other grounds by Dart Cherokee Basin Operation Co., LLC v. Owens, 1');">1');">1');">135 S.Ct. 547');">1');">1');">1');">135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (201');">1');">1');">14)). “Removal statutes are to be strictly construed, and all doubts are to be resolved against removal.” Fajen v. Foundation Reserve Ins. Co., Inc., 1');">1');">1');">1');">683 F.2d 331');">1');">1');">1, 333 (1');">1');">1');">10th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1982) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). As a result, “[t]he removing party bears the burden of establishing the requirements for federal jurisdiction.” Aranda v. Foamex Int'l, 884 F.Supp.2d 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">186, 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">198 (D.N.M. 201');">1');">1');">12) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Generally, “if federal subject-matter jurisdiction over a removed case is doubtful, the case should be remanded to state court.” 1');">1');">1');">14C Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3739 (4th ed. 2009). In the Tenth Circuit, where the removing party's argument is premised on a factual issue, “the issue must be capable of summary determination and be proven with complete certainty.” Smoot v. Chicago, R.I. & P. R. Co., 78 F.2d 879');">378 F.2d 879, 882 (1');">1');">1');">10th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1967)); see Fairchild v. Progressive Direct Ins. Co., No. CV 1');">1');">1');">13-091');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1 KBM/LFG, 201');">1');">1');">13 WL 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">13271');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">14, at *5 (D.N.M. Dec. 20, 201');">1');">1');">13). Indeed, a court may not “pre-try, as a matter of course, doubtful issues of fact to determine removability[.]” Smoot, 378 F.2d at 882 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). It follows that “[w]hen a federal court is faced with disputed issues on removal, it must resolve those issues in favor of remand.” Caldwell-Baker Corp. v. Burlington N. Ry. Co., No. CIV.A. 96-21');">1');">1');">173-GTV, 1');">1');">1');">1996 WL 439297, at *3 (D. Kan. July 9, 1');">1');">1');">1996) (internal citations omitted).

         1');">1');">1');">1. Amount in Controversy

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1332(a), the “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value or $75, 000, exclusive of interests and casts, and is between ... citizens of different states....” While the question of the matter in controversy is determined by federal law, federal courts “look to state law to determine the nature and extent of the right to be enforced in a diversity case.” Horton v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 367 U.S. 348, 352 (1');">1');">1');">1961');">1');">1');">1). In reviewing a court's decision regarding jurisdiction, however, “[o]rdinarily, remand orders ‘[are] not reviewable on appeal or otherwise.'” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 1');">1');">1');">135 S.Ct. 547');">1');">1');">1');">135 S.Ct. 547, 552 (201');">1');">1');">14) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1447(d)).

         Typically, when a case is removed based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. section 1');">1');">1');">1332(a), “the sum demanded in good faith in the initial pleading shall be deemed to be the amount in controversy.” 28 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1446(c)(2). “[A] defendant's notice of removal need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.