United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ADAM CARNEY, parent and natural guardian of PAISLEY CARNEY, a minor, Plaintiff,
C. MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
November 15, 2017, Defendant, GEICO, filed a Notice of
Removal, removing this action, which had been filed in the
Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, to this Court on the
basis of diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. In the
Complaint, Plaintiff, Adam Carney, parent and natural
guardian of Paisley Carney, alleged that GEICO breached its
contractual duties and engaged in bad faith under
Pennsylvania law, 42 Pa. C.S. § 8371, when it
incorrectly determined that Paisley Carney was not a resident
of the Carney household and therefore denied the Carneys'
claim for underinsured motorists (UIM) benefits after Paisley
was injured in a motor vehicle accident and the tort feasor
tendered his policy limits of $50, 000.00. Defendant then
filed an answer and the case was scheduled for a Rule 16
Conference on January 11, 2018.
on November 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the
case to state court. On December 12, 2017, a Report and
Recommendation (R&R) was filed, which recommended that
the motion be denied on the ground that the cases Plaintiff
cited were declaratory judgment action cases, in which
federal courts may abstain from exercising jurisdiction in
certain situations. Because this was not a declaratory
judgment action case, this line of reasoning did not apply
and there was no basis for this Court not to exercise
jurisdiction over this case (ECF No. 14).
December 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed two documents: a motion to
amend (ECF No. 16), in which Plaintiff requests that Count I
be amended to allege a declaratory judgment action; and a
document titled “objections” (ECF No. 15), in
which Plaintiff requests that the Court
“reconsider” the R&R after having granted the
motion to amend and “relinquish” jurisdiction to
the Court of Common Pleas. Finally, on December 26, 2017,
Plaintiff filed a document titled “Motion to Stay
Proposed Rule 26(f) Report and Proposed ADR
Stipulation” (ECF No. 17), in which Plaintiff seeks to
be relieved of the responsibility of responding to the
Defendant's proposed Rule 26(f) report and ADR
stipulation until such time as the Court rules on the pending
motion to amend will be denied for several reasons. As an
initial matter, the Court is far from certain that a
“motion to amend” is an appropriate response to
an R&R. Rather, the record to be reviewed by the district
judge is the record as presented to the magistrate judge and
addressed in the R&R. In addition, it is not clear that
what Plaintiff is proposing is really a declaratory judgment
action. See, e.g., Rarick v. Federated Serv. Ins.
Co., 852 F.3d 223, 226 (3d Cir. 2017) (plaintiffs requested a
declaration that Pennsylvania law required their employers to
provide UIM coverage and then sought damages in the amount of
UIM coverage that would have been provided). Under Plaintiffs
approach, every breach of contract action would contain a
declaratory judgment element in that the complaint would
request that the court “declare” the defendant to
be in breach. Plaintiff has not cited any authority to
support this proposition (indeed, Plaintiffs filings contain
no legal citations at all) and the Court is unaware of any
cases that have so held.
Plaintiff did not attach a proposed amended complaint to the
motion. This is significant because the Court cannot discern
whether Count I of the proposed amended complaint seeks only
a declaration that Plaintiff is entitled to UIM benefits or a
request for such benefits. In either event, however, the
complaint would still seek legal relief in Count II, which
alleges a bad faith claim under Pennsylvania law. Indeed,
Plaintiff asserts that “we are seeking a sum in excess
of $75, 000.00 in this Count” alone. As a result, even
if amended, the Complaint would seek both legal and
declaratory relief. Whether the Court should maintain
jurisdiction over such a mixed complaint is based on the
application of the independent claim test as explained by the
Court of Appeals in Rarick, 852 F.3d at 229.
Plaintiff has not addressed this issue.
the motion to amend should be denied, there is no basis for
granting Plaintiffs motion for reconsideration, which is
premised upon the granting of the motion to amend. Therefore,
the “objections, ” treated as a motion for
reconsideration, will be denied. Finally, there is no basis
for the delay of the parties' responsibilities to
exchange Rule 26(f) material and appear for a Rule 16
conference. Therefore, the motion to stay will be denied.
NOW, this 2nd day of January, 2018, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
Plaintiffs motion to amend (ECF No. 16) is denied.
FURTHER ORDERED that the “objections” filed by
Plaintiff, treated as a motion for reconsideration, is
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs motion to stay (ECF No. 17)
is denied. The parties are reminded of their obligations to
complete a Rule 26(f) report and appear in this Court on
Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. for a Rule 16
may file objections to the R&R by January 16, 2018.
Defendant may file a response to the ...