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Mager v. Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 13, 2020

GAIL MAGER, Plaintiff
v.
TRAVELERS HOME AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM

          GENE E.K. PRATTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The parties have two competing visions for the future of this litigation: one seeks to have it returned to state court; the other seeks its dismissal altogether. Upon consideration of the parties' written and oral advocacy, as well as the applicable case law, the Court denies the motion to remand and grants the motion to dismiss for lack of standing.

         Background

         Ms. Mager, driving one car, and Jessica Ramos, driving another vehicle owned by her mother, Donna Ramos, collided. The Ramos vehicle was insured by Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company for a policy period of 2011 -2012. Donna Ramos was the named insured. The automobile accident occurred in 2012.

         Prior to initiating the present action, Ms. Mager filed a negligence personal injury lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 2013 against Donna Ramos and Jessica Ramos. In these proceedings, Ms. Mager and Donna Ramos signed a stipulation setting forth the following:

• The vehicle driven by Jessica Ramos was owned by Donna Ramos and insured under the Travelers insurance policy.
• Upon belief, Jessica Ramos was denied coverage under the Travelers policy for being a non-permissive user of the vehicle and/or pursuant to other policy exclusions.
• At trial, the only issue to be tried would be the issue of negligence of Jessica Ramos and/or Donna Ramos, and to the extent that there would be a finding of negligence against either of the individuals, Ms. Mager agreed to cap all damages sought to $100, 000.
• Should Donna Ramos be found negligent, Travelers would pay the sum of the damages awarded against her, and/or should Ms. Mager initiate a declaratory judgment action to collect on a judgment against either Jessica or Donna Ramos, the sum of collection would be limited to $100, 000.[1]

         The stipulation was not signed by any attorney or agent of Travelers. Thereafter, a jury trial commenced, and directed verdict was entered in favor of Ms. Mager and against Jessica Ramos. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Donna Ramos.

         This declaratory judgment action was filed by Ms. Mager in 2019 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Travelers removed on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Ms. Mager seeks a declaration that the Travelers insurance policy at issue covers the liability of Jessica Ramos.[2]

         Parties' Arguments

         I. Motion to dismiss

         Travelers's arguments are two-fold. First, it argues that Ms. Mager as the injured party has no standing to seek a declaratory judgment regarding coverage issues under the insurance policy covering the mother of the tortfeasor, Donna Ramos. Second, Travelers argues that Ms. Mager's case must be dismissed ...


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