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Deloach v. Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Co.

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

February 20, 2019

ELIZABETH ANN DELOACH, Individually and as Deloach Real Estate, LLC PLAINTIFF
v.
ALLSTATE VEHICLE AND PROPERTY INSURANCE COMPANY, and PATRICK THIMMES DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Elizabeth Ann Deloach's motion to remand, Doc. #10, and Patrick Thimmes' motion to dismiss, Doc. #16.

         I

         Relevant Procedural History

         On June 13, 2018, Elizabeth Ann Deloach filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Grenada County, Mississippi, against Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company and Patrick Thimmes regarding the denial of an insurance claim on her cabin. Doc. #2 at 1. Allstate, invoking diversity jurisdiction, removed the case to this Court on July 12, 2018. Doc. #1 at 2. The notice of removal alleges that Allstate is an Illinois corporation with a principal place of business in Illinois, and that both Deloach and Thimmes are Mississippi citizens. Id. at 1-2. Allstate contends, however, that Thimmes' “citizenship should be disregarded for purposes of determining whether diversity jurisdiction exists” because he is “fraudulently joined”[1] or, alternatively, “fraudulently misjoined.” Id. at 2-3.

         On July 18, 2018, Deloach filed a motion to remand. Doc. #10. One week later, Allstate filed a motion to dismiss the claims against it.[2] Doc. #13. The next day, Thimmes filed a motion to dismiss the claims against him. Doc. #16. All three motions are opposed.

         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). “If 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).

         No party disputes that the amount in controversy here exceeds $75, 000. However, Allstate asserts that complete diversity exists because Thimmes, a non-diverse defendant, was either improperly joined or fraudulently misjoined. Deloach claims that, because Thimmes' presence in the suit destroys complete diversity, remand is warranted.

         This Court has rejected the fraudulent misjoinder doctrine. See Wilson v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 4:17-CV-124, 2018 WL 1096836, at *2 (N.D. Miss. Feb. 28, 2018) (“In the absence of clear direction from either the Fifth Circuit or the United States Supreme Court, this Court, in strictly interpreting the removal statute, declines to expand its jurisdiction to adopt the doctrine of misjoinder announced in Tapscott.”). As such, severance and remand of the claims against Thimmes is not ...


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