Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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.

ABELS v. STATE FARM FIRE & CAS. CO.

September 2, 1988

CHARLES E. ABELS, IRENE C. ABELS, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL, JR.

 MAURICE B. COHILL, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Before us, for the second time, is defendant State Farm Fire & Casualty Company's ("State Farm") motion to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, we will deny the motion to dismiss and once again order the case remanded to California.

 Background

 This case arises as a result of a fire which occurred at the plaintiffs' residence in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania on October 19, 1981. At the time of the fire the plaintiffs were en route to California where they intended to live. Their house in Beaver Falls was for sale at the same time and was insured by State Farm under a homeowner's policy.

 In November, 1981, plaintiffs filed a claim for $ 59,300 under the policy. After investigating the fire, State Farm denied coverage, based in part on its belief that the fire was of incendiary origin and caused by the plaintiffs.

 Plaintiffs filed an action against State Farm and various Doe defendants in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles on December 2, 1982, alleging breach of duty of fair dealing and good faith, breach of fiduciary duties and unfair insurance practices. The Doe defendants were identified as employees and agents of State Farm who were responsible for processing plaintiffs' insurance claim.

 On February 9, 1983, State Farm removed the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleging diversity of citizenship based on the complaint's description of plaintiffs as California residents, and State Farm, as an Illinois business corporation, and despite the fact that the Doe defendants were all alleged to be California residents. Thus began the storied travels of the record in this case.

 State Farm next moved to transfer the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404. This motion was initially denied. Plaintiffs thereafter moved to amend their complaint so that two of the Doe defendants would be named. Since these named individuals were specifically alleged to be California residents, plaintiffs moved for remand as well, arguing that the amendment of the complaint would destroy diversity. Without ruling on plaintiffs' motion, the California District Court reconsidered State Farm's motion to transfer, sua sponte, and granted the transfer in July of 1983. Plaintiffs attempted to prevent this transfer through a petition for Writ of Mandamus to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but were unsuccessful.

 Once the case arrived here, State Farm filed a motion to dismiss based on plaintiffs' failure to comply with a one-year limitation period set forth in the insurance policy. Plaintiffs had not served State Farm with copy of their complaint until more than a year after the fire occurred, and State Farm therefore argued that plaintiffs' claims are time-barred. Applying California choice of law rules we determined that Pennsylvania law governs the dispute and that under Pennsylvania law plaintiffs' claims are indeed barred. Accordingly, we granted State Farm's motion to dismiss. Abels v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 596 F. Supp. 1461 (W.D. Pa. 1984).

 Plaintiffs appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which vacated our order, holding that the subject matter jurisdiction for removal of this case to the federal courts did not exist. Abels v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 770 F.2d 26 (3d Cir. 1985). No decision or analysis was made as to whether our choice and application of Pennsylvania law in finding that plaintiffs' claims are time-barred was correct. Instead, the court indicated that inasmuch as the Doe defendants were alleged to be California residents in the original complaint, and because the plaintiffs' Doe allegations have sufficient basis and that plaintiffs did not appear to have been fraudulently joined in an attempt to avoid diversity, diversity was found to be lacking. Accordingly, the case was remanded to us, and we were directed to further remand this action to the California state court in which these proceedings began.

 On remand, State Farm moved to dismiss all of the Doe defendants, arguing that none had been served within the three year limitation period proscribed by California state law. This motion was granted by an order dated March 23, 1987. Plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of mandate, seeking review of this dismissal with the Second District of the Court of Appeals of the State of California on March 31, 1987. Petition for Removal, para. 9.

 State Farm then petitioned a second time for removal of this action on April 14, 1987. Id. at para. 10. On May 11, 1987, though, plaintiffs' case was remanded again to the California Superior Court, "presumably on the basis of the pending petition for writ of mandate." Id. at para. 11.

 On May 14, 1987, plaintiffs' petition for writ of mandate was denied. State Farm asserts that the Supreme Court of California also denied Plaintiffs' petition for review, by an order dated July 2, 1987. State Farm's Brief in Response to Plaintiffs' Opposition Brief, 5. A third petition for removal of this action was then filed on June 5, 1987, and a second motion to transfer was filed by State Farm on August 27, 1987. This motion was again granted by the United States District Court for the Central District of California, by order dated ...


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.