United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (ECF
No. 4.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion
will be denied.
September 2, 2015, Plaintiff Kathleen Meyers suffered serious
injuries as a result of an automobile accident with an
underinsured motorist. The underinsured motorist was
determined to be at fault, and the underinsured
motorist's insurance company provided Plaintiff the
maximum liability coverage, in the amount of $15, 000.
(Compl. ¶ 9, Notice of Removal Ex. A, ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff suffered harm in excess of $15, 000, and therefore
filed a claim for underinsured motorist benefits with her
insurance provider, Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company. (Id. ¶ 11.) Defendant denied
Plaintiff's claim for underinsured motorist benefits.
(Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the
Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, asserting two
claims against Defendant: recovery of the underinsured
motorist benefits (Count I), and bad faith pursuant to 42 Pa.
C.S.A. § 8371 (Count II).
August 4, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court.
Defendant asserts that this Court has diversity jurisdiction
over the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. On August
10, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand and
Answer to Defendant's Notice of Removal. (Mot. to Remand,
ECF No. 4.) On August 11, 2017, Defendant filed a Response
and Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion. (ECF
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 and
division embracing the place where such action is
pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A defendant may
remove a civil action to a district court in cases where
“the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . .
. citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). Removal statutes “are to be strictly construed
against removal and all doubts should be resolved in favor of
remand.” In re Briscoe, 448 F.3d 201, 217 (3d
Cir. 2006) (quoting Batoff v. State Farm Ins. Co.,
977 F.2d 848, 851 (3d Cir. 1992)).
argues that this case does not meet the amount in controversy
requirement because she seeks less than $75, 000 in damages.
Plaintiff contends that although the Complaint seeks damages
“in [an] amount greater than $50, 000, ” the
actual amount in controversy “while potentially greater
than $50, 000, is less than $75, 000.” (Mot. to Remand
3.) Defendant argues that a reasonable reading of the
Complaint demonstrates that Plaintiff seeks to recover at
least $100, 000 in damages. Defendant contends that the
amount in controversy requirement is met “based upon
the aggregate amount of Plaintiff's claims against State
Farm in excess of $100, 000 plus attorney's fees and
punitive damages since each Count (I-II) states a district
[sic] cause of action against State Farm.” (Notice of
Removal ¶ 8.)
determining whether a case meets the amount in controversy
requirement, the Third Circuit has held that “the
amount in controversy is not measured by the low end of an
open-ended claim, but rather by a reasonable reading of the
value of the rights being litigated.” Angus v.
Shiley Inc., 989 F.2d 142, 146 (3d Cir. 1993) (citations
omitted). A district court must “properly ma[ke] an
independent appraisal of the value of the claim” based
on the allegations in the complaint, if “the complaint
does not limit its request for damages to a precise monetary
amount.” Id.; see also Samuel-Bassett v.
Kia Motors America, Inc., 357 F.3d 392, 398 (3d Cir.
2004) (“In removal cases, determining the amount in
controversy begins with a reading of the complaint filed in
the state court.”). A district court must remand a case
to state court “if it appears to a legal certainty that
the plaintiff cannot recover the jurisdictional
amount.” Frederico v. Home Depot, 507 F.3d
188, 197 (3d Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original); see also
Samuel-Bassett, 357 F.3d 397 (“[T]he rule for
determining whether the case involves the requisite amount as
whether from the face of the pleadings, it is apparent, to a
legal certainty, that the plaintiff cannot recover the amount
claimed . . . .” (citation and internal quotation marks
Plaintiff did not limit the amount of damages in the
Complaint to less than $75, 000. Rather, Plaintiff did not
allege that the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000
until she filed her response to the Notice of Removal and her
Motion to Remand. As the case law requires, we will only
consider the value of her claims based on the allegations in
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that she was struck by an
underinsured motorist, and that she suffered serious bodily
injuries as a result of the collision. (Compl. ¶ 5.)
These injuries include:
serious injuries in and about her head, body and extremities
including, but not limited to, injuries to her neck including
left herniated disc at ¶ 6-7, cervical radiculopathy,
left shoulder, left side of body, left arm pain and numbness,
mid-back pain and a severe shock to her nerves and nervous
system some or all injuries of which are or may be permanent.
Plaintiff has suffered and may continue to suffer great
physical pain, serious and permanent injury and mental
anguish; Plaintiff has been and may continue to be prevented
from attending to Plaintiff's usual activities, duties
and occupations and has suffered and may continue to suffer a
loss of earnings and earning capacity and Plaintiff has
incurred and may continue to incur various medical expenses
in and about an effort to cure Plaintiff of the ...