The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGLYNN
On March 28, 1980 plaintiffs, Rolf Siekmann and Gail Siekmann, brought suit against defendants, Kirk Mortgage Company ("Kirk") and Leroy Correll ("Correll"), in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The complaint alleged failure on the part of Kirk and Correll to maintain flood insurance on plaintiffs' property which was allegedly damaged by a flood in January 1979. Kirk was the mortgagee of the property and Correll was the insurance agent for the plaintiffs.
On January 28, 1981 defendant, Kirk, joined the Federal Insurance Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as an additional defendant pursuant to Rule 2252 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. Kirk's complaint alleged that FEMA failed to provide plaintiffs and defendants with proper notice of the termination of plaintiffs' insurance policy.
FEMA removed the action to this court on March 5, 1981 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
Presently before the court is a motion filed by FEMA to dismiss Kirk's complaint against it for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. FEMA relies on the doctrine of sovereign immunity which operates to bar actions against the federal government, absent a waiver of that immunity by consent to suit. FEMA further contends that exclusive jurisdiction over contract and tort actions against the government, as those alleged in this case, has been vested in the United States district courts.
Hence the state court had no jurisdiction over the claims. Since jurisdiction on removal is derivative in nature, it does not exist if the state court from which the case is removed lacks jurisdiction. Lambert Run Coal Co. v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co., 258 U.S. 377, 66 L. Ed. 671, 42 S. Ct. 349 (1922).
Kirk opposes the motion to dismiss and argues that the federal government has waived sovereign immunity in 42 U.S.C. § 4053.
Kirk maintains that § 4053 confers concurrent jurisdiction upon federal and state courts over claims involving flood insurers under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. Since concurrent jurisdiction exists and if the case was properly removed, this court has jurisdiction and the motion to dismiss must be denied.
Kirk cites several cases which have held that § 4053 allows concurrent jurisdiction in disputes over the coverage of insurance policies issued pursuant to the Act.
However, as noted by FEMA, the federal government was not a party to suit during the state court proceedings in any of these cases.
Thus, FEMA argues, these cases support the conclusion that § 4053 confers concurrent jurisdiction in suits between private parties. This view comports with the legislative history accompanying the Act, which appears in 1968 U.S. Code Cong. and Admin. News, 2873:
Part A INDUSTRY PROGRAM WITH FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
Section 1133. Adjustment and payment of claims and judicial review
This section authorizes private insurers participating in the pool to adjust and pay claims for losses and permits any claimant, upon disallowance or partial disallowance of a claim, to institute an action, within 1 year after notice of the disallowance was mailed, in the U.S. district court for the district in which the insured property or the major portion of it was situated. Jurisdiction would be conferred on the district court without regard to the amount in ...