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AIX Specialty Insurance Co. v. Pebble Creek Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

March 30, 2017

AIX SPECIALITY INS. CO., PLAINTIFF
v.
PEBBLE CREEK HOLDINGS, LLC; B&B MANAGEMENT GROUP, LLC; ANTONIA HARRISON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF FREDERICK WILLIAMS, JR., DECEASED; and JOHN DOES 1-20. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          HENRY T. WINGATE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         BEFORE THIS COURT are three interrelated motions: defendant B & B Management Group, LLC's Motion to Dismiss [Docket no. 4]; defendant Pebble Creek Holdings, LLC's Motion to Dismiss [Docket no. 5]; and plaintiff AIX Specialty Ins. Co.'s Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Docket no. 14]. Defendant Antonia Harrison joined in both motions to dismiss [Docket no. 7].

         Both motions to dismiss, at core, center on a certain state court lawsuit, commenced before the filing of the instant complaint in this federal forum. The movant defendants herein contend that, all of the rights of the respective parties herein are being litigated in that state court law suit on the identical issues presented sub judice. Arguing that this parallel state court litigation ultimately will resolve this entire litigation here, defendants Pebble Creek Holdings, Inc. and B&B Management Group, LLC ask this court, on the authority of Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of America, 316 U.S. 491 (1942) to dismiss the present action.

         Plaintiff AIX opposes this approach, campaigning that Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976) should control this court's decision.

         Under that scenario, this court would abstain from ruling on this case either by dismissing the litigation, or by staying this federal lawsuit pending the outcome of the state court litigation.

         AIX' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Docket no. 14] contains AIX' request to amend its complaint to rescind its claims for attorney's fees and costs in its ad damnum clause.

         This court carefully has studied the motions and the triggering law and now announces its decision on the motions urged. For the following reasons, this court finds the Motions to Dismiss not well-taken and, therefore, DENIES both [Docket nos. 4 & 5].

         After reviewing the pleadings of the parties, and the relevant jurisprudence, this court is persuaded that AIX' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Docket no. 14] is well-taken. Therefore, for the reasons stated infra this court GRANTS AIX' Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [Docket no. 14].

         I. PARTIES

         Plaintiffs AIX Specialty Insurance Company (hereinafter referred to as “AIX”) is a Delaware corporation with its principle place of business in Connecticut. AIX specializes in insurance coverage.

         Defendant Pebble Creek Holdings, LLC (hereinafter referred to as “Pebble Creek”) is a Mississippi limited liability company with its principle place of business in California. Pebble Creek is alleged to be the owner of the Pebble Creek Apartments in Jackson, Mississippi.

         Defendant B & B Management Group, LLC (hereinafter referred to as “B&B”) is a Mississippi limited liability company with its principle place of business in Mississippi. B&B is alleged to be the management company for the Pebble Creek Apartments.

         Defendant Antonia Harrison (hereinafter referred to as “Harrison”) is an adult resident of Hinds County, Mississippi. It is unclear from the pleadings in the state court lawsuit [Docket no. 4-1], or the pleadings in the instant lawsuit, how Harrison is related to the decedent, Frederick Williams. It is clear, however, that Harrison is suing and defending in her own behalf and as a wrongful death beneficiary of Frederick Williams.

         II. JURISDICTION

         This court is tasked initially with determining whether it has subject matter jurisdiction. AIX, in its complaint, alleges this court has diversity subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332[1]. [Docket no., 1 ¶7]. The defendants have not challenged this assertion of AIX. Even so, a federal court must sua sponte confirm its subject matter jurisdiction, since federal courts possess limited subject matter jurisdiction.[2] Having made that independent assessment, this court finds the parties are completely diverse and that the minimum amount in controversy[3]mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is present; therefore, this court finds it possesses diversity subject matter jurisdiction under § 1332.

         III. FACTS

         On February 6, 2012, AIX issued to Pebble Creek an insurance policy numbered IPZ-CL-0020157-0, styled Commercial General Liability, covering the apartments and pool area located at 5255 Manhattan Road, Jackson, Mississippi. The policy in question was in effect from February 6, 2012 through February 6, 2013. The policy afforded coverage to Pebble Creek with $1, 000, 000 in liability limits for each occurrence. [Docket no. 1, ¶ 9].

         On July 4, 2012, Frederick Williams (referred to hereinafter as “Williams”) was shot and killed while visiting his friends who lived at Pebble Creek Apartments. [Docket no. 1, ¶ 11]. Supposedly, Harrison subsequently, on July 3, 2015, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi against Pebble Creek and B&B ...


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