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Saxton v. Colony Specialty

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

March 27, 2015

ARCHIE SAXTON and DEBORAH SAXTON, Plaintiffs,
v.
COLONY SPECIALTY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GREG N. STIVERS, District Judge.

Defendant's motion to dismiss was filed on January 29, 2015. Plaintiffs Archie Saxton and Deborah Saxton (collectively "Saxtons") were afforded an opportunity to respond but did not do so. The motion is now ripe for ruling. Because the Court finds insufficient factual support to establish diversity jurisdiction, however, the case is DISMISSED pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).

I. SUMMARY OF FACTS AND CLAIMS

Plaintiffs seek compensation for a fall, which Deborah Saxton ("Saxton") incurred on February 21, 2013. (Compl., DN 1). The Saxtons contend "unsafe steps" resulted in "severe injury, " fracturing Deborah's leg and requiring surgery. Id. While the Complaint is silent on the location of the accident, according to Defendant's motion, this accident occurred on property insured by Defendant. (DN 15). The Complaint lists P.O. Box addresses for both Plaintiffs and Defendant. Plaintiffs have neither alleged nor offered any proof of the insured's liability. The Complaint alleges an insurance claim was filed but rejected on April 9, 2013.

This lawsuit was filed on February 21, 2014. Despite some delay to effectuate proper service of process, Defendant now contends dismissal is warranted for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

II. STANDARD

The plaintiff has the burden to prove diversity jurisdiction. Rogers v. Stratton Indus., 798 F.2d 913 (6th Cir. 1986). "[T]he allegations of a complaint drafted by a pro se litigant are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers in the sense that a pro se complaint will be liberally construed in determining whether it fails to state a claim upon which relief could be granted." Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted).

Motions pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) require the Court "to construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept all of the complaint's factual allegations as true, and determine whether the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle relief." Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). Nonetheless, the Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs' Complaint establishes no readily identifiable federal question nor has it established jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. Diversity jurisdiction is available where (i) the plaintiff and all of the defendants are citizens of different states, and (ii) the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, exclusive of interest and costs. While the Saxtons have not specifically alleged damages, in liberally construing the complaint the Court finds the amount-in-controversy has been met. Plaintiffs seek "the value of the policy." (Compl., DN 1). The Saxtons allege that Deborah's injury required surgery, and it is conceivable the medical services she received could have exceeded $75, 000.

Problematically, Plaintiffs have not established diversity of citizenship. Federal courts are statutorily granted diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. That statute states:

(1) a corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of every State and foreign state by which it has been incorporated and of the State or foreign state where it has its principal place of business, except that in any direct action against the insurer of a policy or contract of liability insurance, whether incorporated or unincorporated, to which action the insured is not joined as a party-defendant, such insurer shall be deemed a citizen of-
(A) every State and foreign state of which the insured is a citizen;
(B) every State and foreign state by which the insurer has been ...

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