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Krol v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 6, 2015

STEFAN KROL and DEANNA KROL, Plaintiffs (Judge Munley
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY and ATUL K. AMIN, MD, PC, Defendants

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is Plaintiffs Stefan Krol and Deanna Krol's (hereinafter "plaintiffs") motion to remand the instant matter to the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. 3). The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

Background

This case arises from an automobile insurance policy plaintiffs purchased from Defendant Allstate Insurance Company (hereinafter "Allstate"). (Doc. 4-2, Ex. B, Compl. (hereinafter "Compl.") ¶ 5).

On August 14, 2011, an uninsured driver rear-ended plaintiffs' motor vehicle causing significant injuries to Plaintiff Stefan Krol. (Id. ¶¶ 7-10, 47-48). Defendant Atul K. Amin, MD, PC (hereinafter "Dr. Amin") provided medical services and treatment to Plaintiff Stefan Krol. (Id. ¶ 11). Allstate, however refused to pay Dr. Amin's medical bills, asserting a peer review organization determined Stefan Krol's injuries were not causally related to the accident. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 22-26).

On September 20, 2013, Dr. Amin filed a lawsuit against Stefan Krol regarding the unpaid medical bills in the Northampton County Court of Common Please (hereinafter "Northampton County action") asserting breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims. (Doc. 9-1, Ex. C, Northampton Cnty. Compl.). Stefan Krol filed preliminary objections contending Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 PA. CONS. STAT. § 1797(b)(7) (hereinafter "section 1797(b)(7)"), precludes Dr. Amin's claims.[1] (Doc. 7-2, Ex. E., Def. Amin Prelim. Objections ¶ 8). The Northampton County Court of Common Please denied the preliminary objections. (Doc. 8-1, Ex. B, order dated 3/11/14). On April 24, 2014, Stefan Kroll filed an answer and new matter in the Northampton County action (Doc. 8-1, Ex. C), averring section 1797(b)(7) precludes Dr. Amin's claims. (Id. at 23).

Subsequent to the commencement of the Northampton County action, on August 13, 2014, plaintiffs initiated a lawsuit in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas (hereinafter "Pike County action") against Allstate and Dr. Amin. Plaintiffs assert breach of contract and bad faith claims against Allstate. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-55). Additionally, plaintiffs seek a declaration under Pennsylvania state law that section 1797(b)(7) precludes Dr. Amin's claims. (Id. ¶¶ 56-63).

Allstate filed a notice of removal on October 7, 2014. (Doc. 1). Allstate avers the court has jurisdiction based upon diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Id. ¶ 4). Plaintiffs then filed a motion to remand the instant action to the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. 3). Plaintiffs argue Allstate has failed to sufficiently establish that the citizenship of the parties is diverse. The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.

Legal Standard

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(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... to the district court of the United States." Federal law, however, precludes removal based on diversity of citizenship "if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the state in which such action is brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). Thus, a defendant asserting federal diversity jurisdiction may only remove an action to federal court where the action involves citizens of different states and an amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, in excess of $75, 000.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

Discussion

On October 7, 2014, Allstate removed the instant matter from the Pike County Court of Common Pleas, asserting the court has diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Generally, a defendant can remove a state court civil action to a United States District Court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction to address the matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Once a case is removed, the federal court may remand it if the court determines that it lacks federal subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).[2] "Because lack of jurisdiction would make any decree in the case void and the continuation of the litigation in federal court futile, the removal statute should be strictly construed and all doubts resolved in favor of remand." Brown v. Francis, 75 F.3d 860, 864-65 (3d Cir. 1996) (quoting Abels v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 770 F.2d 26, 29 (3d Cir. 1985)). The burden of establishing jurisdiction in the removal situation rests with the defendant. Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch & Signal Div., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987).

In the notice of removal, Allstate indicates the court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶ 4). Pursuant to this statutory section, jurisdiction is proper in federal district court where the action involves citizens of different states and an amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, in excess of $75, 000.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Plaintiffs ...


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