The opinion of the court was delivered by: D. Brooks Smith, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Phyllis M. Miller ("Miller"), has filed three
motions in this matter: 1) a motion to remand this case to state
court; 2) a motion to dismiss the defendant's counterclaim; and
3) a motion to stay relief upon a motion to amend filed by the
defendant. I will deny all three motions.
On October 6, 1997, Jay Elmer Miller ("Mr.Miller") was driving
a vehicle owned by his employer when he was struck and killed by
an oncoming truck. Dkt. no. 1, Ex. A. At the time of the
accident, Mr. Miller's employer had a motor vehicle insurance
policy that covered the vehicle that Mr. Miller was driving.
Id. ¶¶ 7-8. That insurance policy was issued by defendant,
Liberty Mutual Group (hereinafter "Liberty Mutual"), id. ¶ 8,
and it contained a bodily injury liability limit of
$2,000,000.*fn1 As Administratrix of Mr. Miller's estate,
plaintiff, Phyllis Miller, filed this action in the Court of
Common Pleas of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. In her complaint,
she sought declaratory judgment on a number of issues concerning
the insurance policy issued by Liberty Mutual. Id. at 7. First,
plaintiff sought a determination of whether the insurance policy
provided under insured motorist ("UIM") coverage for Mr. Miller's
injuries and death. Id. Second, if the policy did require such
coverage, she sought a determination of precisely how much UIM
coverage was available under the policy. Id. Plaintiff did not
ask the Court of Common Pleas to award damages; rather, she asked
the court only to work out the rights and responsibilities
between the parties.
Soon after Liberty Mutual was served with plaintiff's
complaint, it removed the case to federal court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1441, 1446(a)-(b). Dkt. no. 1. In its notice of
removal, Liberty Mutual claimed that federal jurisdiction over
this action was proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In particular,
defendant alleged that there was diversity of citizenship between
the parties, dkt. no. 1, ¶ 7, and that the amount in controversy
exceeded $75,000. Dkt. no. 1, ¶ 5. Only days after removing this
case, Liberty Mutual filed an answer and counterclaim to
plaintiff's complaint. Dkt. no. 2.
In response to Liberty Mutual's removal of this action,
plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to the Court of
Common Pleas. Dkt. no. 3. In her motion, plaintiff claimed that
the case was improperly removed because this court lacks
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). In particular, she
alleged that § 1332(a)'s $75,000 amount in controversy
requirement is not satisfied because she sought declaratory
relief — and not damages — from the defendant. Dkt. no. 3, ¶ 12;
Dkt. no. 4, at 10. In addition, the plaintiff argued that Liberty
Mutual had denied owing plaintiff any money whatsoever and,
therefore, could not claim that this case was valued over
$75,000. Dkt. no. 3, ¶ 8.
I will first take up plaintiff's motion to remand this case to
the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County. 28 U.S.C. § 1441
provides for the removal of actions from state courts. In
relevant part, this provision provides as follows:
(a) . . . any civil action brought in a State court
of which the district courts of the United States
have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the
defendant or the defendants, to the district court of
the United States for the district where such action
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) (emphasis added). One instance in which the
district courts of the United States have "original jurisdiction"
is when there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and
the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. See id. § 1332(a).
Upon a motion to remand, it is the removing party's burden to
establish the existence of federal jurisdiction, and all doubts
must be resolved in favor of remand. See Batoff v. State Farm
Insurance Co., 977 F.2d 848, 851 (3d Cir. 1992).
I have little doubt that the requirements of § 1332(a) have
been satisfied in this case. The sole issue raised by plaintiff
in her motion is that the $75,000 amount in controversy
requirement has not been met.*fn2 But plaintiff's own complaint
demonstrates that the amount in controversy in this matter far
exceeds § 1332(a)'s jurisdictional floor. For instance, in her
complaint, plaintiff alleges the following:
28. The motor vehicle policy issued by Defendant to
Decedent's employer and in effect on the date of the
incident alleged herein contained bodily injury
liability limits of two million dollars ($2,000,000).
29. Plaintiff believes, and therefore avers, that the
amounts of available UIM coverage of such policy to
indemnify her and/or the Estate of Decedent for the
injuries to and death of Decedent is equal to the