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Murry v. GEICO General Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

April 24, 2018

PHALLON MURRY, also known as Ms. Willie Fry PLAINTIFF
v.
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, also known as Government Employees Insurance Company GEICO, and MELVIN BREWER DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Phallon Murry's motion to remand, Doc. #5, and GEICO General Insurance Company's motion to sever, Doc. #13.

         I

          Relevant Procedural History

         On January 8, 2018, Phallon Murry filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, against GEICO General Insurance Company and Melvin Brewer. Doc. #2. In her complaint, Murry alleges that Brewer “negligently drove his motor vehicle forward and such negligence proximately caused his vehicle tire to run into the Plaintiff's right ankle and right foot.” Id. at ¶ 12. Murry further alleges that Brewer was an uninsured motorist and that “[u]nder the GEICO insurance policy, the Plaintiff is entitled to the payment of the policy limit for the uninsured motorist coverage ….” Id. at ¶ 19-21.

         GEICO, asserting diversity jurisdiction, removed the state court action to this Court on February 8, 2018. Doc. #1. The notice of removal alleges that Murry and Brewer are both citizens of Mississippi and that GEICO is a Maryland corporation with a principal place of business of Maryland. Id. at ¶¶ 4-6. The notice of removal also alleges that, notwithstanding the matching citizenship of Murry and Brewer, complete diversity exists because, pursuant to the doctrine of fraudulent or egregious misjoinder, the citizenship of Brewer may be disregarded. Id. at ¶¶ 8, 12.

         On February 12, 2018, Murry filed a “Motion to Remand.”[1] Doc. # 5. On February 23, 2018, GEICO filed a response in opposition to remand, Doc. # 11, and three days later, filed a motion to sever, Doc. # 13.

         II

         Standard

         “Under the federal removal statute, a civil action may be removed from a state court to a federal court on the basis of diversity. This is so because the federal court has original subject matter jurisdiction over such cases.” Int'l Energy Ventures Mgmt., L.L.C. v. United Energy Grp., Ltd., 818 F.3d 193, 199 (5th Cir. 2016). “The party seeking to remove bears the burden of showing that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper. Any ambiguities are construed against removal and in favor of remand to state court.” Scarlott v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., 771 F.3d 883, 887 (5th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted). In this regard, “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         III

         Analysis

         Diversity jurisdiction requires that there be: (1) complete diversity between the parties; and (2) an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. §1332; Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). Complete diversity “requires that all persons on one side of the controversy be citizens of different states than all persons on the other side.” Vaillancourt v. PNC Bank, Nat'l Ass'n, 771 F.3d 843, 847 (5th Cir. 2014).

         As explained above, GEICO submits that complete diversity exists because Brewer, a non-diverse defendant, was fraudulently misjoined. Murry seeks remand on the ground that Brewer was not fraudulently misjoined in ...


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