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LaCaffinie v. Standard Fire Insurance Co.

May 28, 2010

ALLAN LACAFFINIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STANDARD FIRE INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joy Flowers Conti

ORDER

On July 29, 2009, plaintiff Allan LaCaffinie ("LaCaffinie" or "plaintiff") brought a class action against defendant The Standard Insurance Co. ("defendant") in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas asserting two claims. Count I asserted as state law assumpsit claim, alleging that defendant charged him for stacked uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage on a motor vehicle insurance policy, but the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 PA. CONS. STAT. §§ 1701 et seq., prohibited stacking. Count II asserted a claim under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 PA. CONS. STAT. §§ 201-2 et seq. (Civil Action No. 09-1214, Docket No. 1, Ex. 1.) On September 8, 2009, defendant removed the case to this court, and the action was docketed at Civil Action No. 09-1214. (Civil Action No. 09-1214, Docket No. 1.) Three days later, plaintiff filed a petition for remand. (Civil Action No. 09-1214, Docket No. 6.) On September 29, 2009, the parties entered a stipulation. The stipulation provided that:

1. The amount in controversy claimed by the plaintiff in Count I of the complaint in this matter does not exceed $240, exclusive of interest and costs.

2. The amount in controversy claimed by the plaintiff in Count II of the complaint in this matter does not exceed $1,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

3. The amount in controversy claimed by the plaintiff as to the proposed class in the complaint in this matter does not exceed $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

4. In view of the above, the parties agree to remand this case to the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County.

(Civil Action No. 09-1214, Docket No. 9 ¶¶ 1-4.) Based upon the parties' stipulation, the next day the court entered an order remanding the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County. (Civil Action No. 09-1214, Docket No. 10.)

On February 16, 2010, defendant again filed a notice of removal. (Civil Action No. 10- 207, Docket No. 1) The action was this time docketed at Civil Action No. 10-207. (Id.) On February 24, 2010, plaintiff filed a petition to remand to state court. (Docket No. 7.) On March 15, 2010, defendant filed a brief in opposition to the petition. (Docket No. 11.) On April 26, 2010, plaintiff filed a brief in support of the petition. (Docket No. 21.) On May 25, 2010, the court heard argument with respect to the petition to remand.

Plaintiff moves for remand pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1447(c), which provides:

A motion to remand the case on the basis of any defect other than lack of subject matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal under section 1446(a). If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded. An order remanding the case may require payment of just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal. A certified copy of the order of remand shall be mailed by the clerk to the clerk of the State court. The State court may thereupon proceed with such case.

28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

Upon a motion to remand, the defendant has the burden to establish the propriety of removal and all doubts must be resolved in favor of remand. Boyer v. Snap-on Tools Corp., 913 F.2d 108, 111 (3d Cir. 1990); Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch and Signal Div., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987).

In LaCaffinie's petition for remand, LaCaffinie emphasizes that defendant previously tried to remove this case to federal court on the basis that the damages for the class exceeded $5,000,000, which is the threshold under the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332(d)(2)(A). The parties jointly stipulated, however, that the amount in controversy did not exceed $5,000,000, prompting this court to remand the case back to state court. LaCaffinie argues that the ...


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