United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
KELVIN THOMAS, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. STIVERS, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand (DN 8). The matter is ripe for adjudication. For the
following reasons detailed below, the Plaintiffs' motion
Kelvin Thomas and Keyaira Thomas were involved in an accident
when their automobile was sideswiped by another vehicle.
(Notice Removal Ex. B, at 2, DN 1-2 [hereinafter Police
Report]). At the time of the accident, the Thomases had
insurance through Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance
Company (“Allstate”). (Notice Removal Ex. D, at
2, DN 1-4 [hereinafter Policy]). Their policy included
Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage in
the amount of $10, 000.00 for each passenger. (Policy 14).
The Thomases alleged that they sustained injuries as a result
of the accident and submitted individual claims to Allstate
seeking reimbursement for medical treatment and PIP coverage
benefits. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-13, DN 32). Mr. Thomas
incurred approximately $13, 000.00 in medical bills related
to the accident, and Ms. Thomas's bills totaled
approximately $5, 800. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29, 31).
Allstate suspended making a decision on any of the
Thomases' claims pending the completion of its fraud
investigation and therefore has not paid anything on these
claims. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30, 32).
requested an Examination Under Oath (“EUO”) be
scheduled for both Thomases. (Def.'s Resp. Pls.' Mot.
Remand Ex. 1, DN 11-1). The Thomases, through their attorney,
refused to appear for an EUO. (Def.'s Resp. Pls.'
Mot. Remand Ex. 2, DN 11-2). Allstate then filed a petition
in Jefferson Circuit Court under KRS 304.39-280(3) seeking a
court order authorizing it to take the deposition testimony
and obtain an EUO of the Thomases. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25).
The Thomases responded by requesting that the court deny
Allstate's petition to conduct discovery in the case and
seeking an order finding that Allstate improperly denied
no-fault benefits to the Thomases. (Am. Compl. ¶ 26).
Thomases subsequently filed the Amended Complaint seeking:
(i) a declaratory judgment that Allstate “had no
reasonable basis to deny or delay payment of no-fault
benefits on the basis of demanding an examination under oath
be completed prior to payment of no-fault benefits” and
that the Thomases are “entitled to no-fault benefits
and for injunctive relief preventing Defendant Allstate, as
reparations insurer, from denying or delaying payment of
no-fault benefits on its insureds behalf in the future . . .
to prevent this conduct in the future”; (ii) an
injunction “preventing Allstate, as reparations
insurer, from the unnecessary, unreasonable and ultimately
unlawful practice of denying or delaying payment of no-fault
benefits without following the statutory mandates of the
Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act”; and (iii)
“damages including 18% interest, attorney fees and
failure to pay past-due no-fault benefits” for
violations of the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act
(“MVRA”). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 73-75, 78).
Additionally, the Thomases “stipulate[d] that the total
damages claimed for them and each putative class member is
less than $75, 000.00 per each plaintiff.” (Am. Compl.
Thomases also contend they are representatives of a putative
class, which they seek to certify, of similarly situated
individuals in Kentucky who were denied or had payment of
no-fault benefits denied or delayed on the basis of the
individuals refusing to submit to an examination under oath.
(Am. Compl. ¶ 2). Thus, the Amended Complaint also seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of the entire
class. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 73-75, 78). Allstate removed
this action from Jefferson Circuit Court asserting that the
amount in controversy was satisfied by combining
Plaintiffs' claims for compensatory damages, injunctive
relief, and attorney's fees. (Notice Removal,
¶¶ 24-33, DN 1). Plaintiffs have moved to remand
this matter to state court, and this matter is ripe for
adjudication. (Pls.' Mot. Remand, DN 8).
REMOVAL JURISDICTION AND REMAND
district courts of the United States . . . are courts of
limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized
by Constitution and statute.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). The
removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441,
“authorizes” defendants to remove “civil
actions from state court to federal court when the action
initiated in state court is one that could have been brought,
originally, in a federal district court.” Lincoln
Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 81 (2005) (citation
omitted). “In order to provide a neutral forum for what
have come to be known as diversity cases, Congress also has
granted district courts original jurisdiction in civil
actions between citizens of different States, between U.S.
citizens and foreign citizens, or by foreign states against
U.S. citizens.” Exxon Mobil, 545 U.S. at 552
(citing 18 U.S.C. § 1332). “[Section] 1332(a)
requires that the matter in controversy in a diversity case
exceed a specified amount, currently $75, 000.”
Id. at 552. “To satisfy the
amount-in-controversy requirement at least one
plaintiff's claim must independently meet the
amount-in-controversy specification.” Everett v.
Verizon Wireless, Inc., 460 F.3d 818, 822 (6th Cir.
2006) (citing Exxon Mobil, 545 U.S. at 551)
defendant wishing to remove a case bears the burden of
satisfying the amount-in-controversy requirement. Gafford
v. Gen. Elec. Co., 997 F.2d 150, 155 (6th Cir. 1993),
abrogated on other grounds by Hertz Corp. v. Friend,
130 S.Ct. 1181 (2010). Where plaintiffs seek “some
unspecified amount that is not self-evidently greater or less
than the federal amount-in-controversy requirement, ”
the defendant satisfies its burden when it proves that the
amount in controversy “more likely than not”
exceeds $75, 000. Id. at 158. The use of the
preponderance of the evidence standard “does not place
upon the defendant the daunting burden of proving, to a legal
certainty, that the plaintiff's damages are not less than
the amount-in-controversy requirement. Such a burden might
well require the defendant to research, state and prove the
plaintiff's claim for damages.” Hayes v.
Equitable Energy Res. Co., 266 F.3d 560, 572 (6th Cir.
2001) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting
Gafford, 997 F.2d at 158).
maintains that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000
because Plaintiffs have requested declaratory and injunctive
relief that will require Allstate to pay out PIP benefits to
all insureds within thirty days of receipt without the
opportunity to investigate for fraud and because Plaintiffs
have requested statutory attorney's fees under the MVRA.
(Notice Removal 9). After calculating the amount in
controversy with respect to the compensatory damages,
injunctive and declaratory relief, and statutory
attorney's fees, the Court concludes that Allstate has
failed to satisfy its burden of establishing that it is more
likely than not that the amount in controversy will exceed
benefits available through the Allstate policy are a maximum
of $10, 000.00 per individual, combined with the 18% interest
per annum as prescribed in the MVRA. See KRS
304.39-210(2). The class period asserted in the Amended
Complaint is for the time period from May 1, 2011, to the
present. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2). Thus, the addition of six
years of statutory interest for any one plaintiff claiming
$10, 000 in past-due PIP benefits could total as much as $10,
800 through April 2017 and, consequently, the absolute
maximum any single Plaintiff could receive through that date
would be $20, 800. This is still over $54, 000 below the
jurisdictional threshold. Allstate does not dispute that the
compensatory damages do not reach the amount in controversy,
but instead argues that the addition of the value of
injunctive relief and statutory attorney's fees to the