United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, Judge.
matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motions to
Remand (DN 6, 9), which are ripe for adjudication. For the
reasons stated below, the motions are
Corey Lohden (“Lohden”) was involved in an
automobile accident with Hannah Wright (“Wright”)
on August 6, 2014, in Barren County, Kentucky. (Notice of
Removal, DN 1-1 [hereinafter Compl.]). Lohden alleges that
Wright's negligence caused the accident. (Compl.
¶¶ 4-5). Wright was insured at the time of the
accident by a Kentucky Farm Bureau (“KFB”).
(Def.'s Resp. Mot. Remand Ex. 2, at 1, DN 7-2
[hereinafter Gillenwater Letter]). Lohden settled his claim
against Wright with KFB for $50, 000. (Gillenwater Letter).
Subsequently, Lohden filed this action in Barren Circuit
Court asserting a claim for underinsured motorist
(“UIM”) coverage under insurance policies issued
by Defendants Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company
(“Philadelphia”) and State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company (“State Farm”) (collectively,
“Defendants”), each of which provided insurance
coverage applicable to Lohden's claim. (Compl.
¶¶ 7-10). The Philadelphia policy provides $60, 000
in underinsured motorist coverage, while the State Farm
policy includes $25, 000 in underinsured motorist coverage.
(Pl.'s Mot. Remand 1, DN 6).
August 24, 2016, Philadelphia-with the consent of State
Farm-removed the case to this Court under 28 U.S.C. §
1441. (Notice of Removal 1, 3, DN 1; Notice of Consent to
Removal 1, DN 2). Philadelphia claims that jurisdiction is
appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because there is
diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs. (Notice of Removal 2-3).
defendant may remove an action from state court to federal
court when the plaintiff could have brought it in federal
court originally. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Unlike state
trial courts, federal district courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction; they hold only that power authorized by the
U.S. Constitution and statute. Gunn v. Minton, 133
S.Ct. 1059, 1964 (2013) (citation omitted). Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1), district courts have “diversity
jurisdiction” over cases between citizens of different
states where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs. Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005)
(citation omitted). The removing defendants bear the burden
of establishing the diversity jurisdiction requirements.
Chapman v. Houston Welfare Rights Org., 441 U.S.
600, 612 n.28 (1979) (citations omitted). “[B]ecause
lack of jurisdiction would make any decree in the case void
and the continuation of the litigation in federal court
futile, the removal statute should be strictly construed and
all doubts resolved in favor of remand.” Eastman v.
Marine Mech. Corp., 438 F.3d 544, 549-50 (internal
quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted).
claims against distinct defendants cannot be aggregated for
the purpose of satisfying the amount-in-controversy
requirement. As the Sixth Circuit has recognized, “[i]t
is a settled general rule that, in a suit based on diversity
of citizenship brought against several defendants on separate
and distinct claims . . ., the test of jurisdiction is the
amount of each separate claim and not the aggregate amount of
the claims.” Fechheimer Bros. Co. v.
Barnwasser, 146 F.2d 974, 977 (6th Cir. 1945) (citation
omitted); Siding & Insulation Co. v. Acuity Mut. Ins.
Co., 754 F.3d 367, 373 (6th Cir. 2014) (citation
is complete diversity of citizenship between the
parties. The only question is whether Lohden's
claims against Philadelphia and State Farm satisfy the
amount-in-controversy requirement. In its notice of removal,
Philadelphia explains that “[i]n light of Lohden's
policy-limit demands on [Philadelphia] and State Farm ($60,
000 and $25, 000 respectively) this is a civil action where
the matters in controversy exceed the sum of $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs.” (Notice of Removal
3). Such reasoning clearly runs afoul of the anti-aggregation
rule. Indeed, in its response to Lohden's motion,
Philadelphia recognizes that the limits of each insurance
policy cannot be aggregated for purposes of surmounting the
amount-in-controversy requirement. (Def.'s Resp.
Pl.'s Mot. Remand 2, DN 7). Rather, it contends the
amount-in-controversy requirement is met without aggregating.
Given the nature of Lohden's claims, Philadelphia notes
that he must prove that his damages exceed the amount he
received from Wright's insurance carrier ($50, 000)
before he can recover against Philadelphia. Because Lohden is
seeking $60, 000 in UIM benefits from Philadelphia,
Philadelphia asserts that the amount in controversy is
actually $110, 000, which would grant this Court diversity
jurisdiction over Lohden's claim against Philadelphia.
Philadelphia also maintains that the Court has supplemental
jurisdiction over Lohden's claim against State Farm.
argument is not well-taken. Lohden is asserting separate
contract claims against Philadelphia and State Farm for UIM
benefits of up to $60, 000 and $25, 000, respectively. The
amount in controversy is limited by what Lohden might recover
under the applicable insurance policies. See Marcum,
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62098, at *5-6. The Court recognizes
that the damages Lohden suffered as a result of the accident
with Wright would have to total at least $110, 000 before he
could recover $60, 000 in UIM benefits from Philadelphia.
However, Lohden's claim against Philadelphia
(i.e., the amount in controversy) is, at most, worth
$60, 000. See Id. at *11. The amount Lohden
previously received from Wright's insurance carrier is
not part of his claim against Philadelphia. Id. at
12. As a result, the Court does not have diversity
jurisdiction over Lohden's claim against Philadelphia
because it does not exceed $75, 000. Likewise, Lohden's
claim against State Farm is for $25, 000, far below the
Court's minimum jurisdictional limit for diversity cases.
Because the Court does not have jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's claim against Philadelphia, it is unnecessary
to address whether the Court would have supplemental
jurisdiction over Lohden's claim against State Farm.
reasons discussed above, the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motions to Remand (DN
6, 9) are GRANTED. This case is
REMANDED to Barren Circuit Court, ...