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Estate of Martin v. Metlife Insurance Company USA

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

January 25, 2018

ESTATE OF GREGORY B. MARTIN, by and through JANET L. JOZWIAK, as Executor, et al. PLAINTIFF
v.
METLIFE INSURANCE COMPANY USA DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the court on the motion of plaintiff, the Estate of Gregory B. Martin (“plaintiff”), to remand the case to Jefferson Circuit Court. ECF No. 4. Defendant Metlife Insurance Company USA (“Met USA”) responded. ECF No. 5. Plaintiff subsequently replied. ECF No. 7. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion will be granted.

         I. Case Background

         This case arises from a motor vehicle collision that occurred on November 13, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky, resulting in the death of Gregory B. Martin. ECF No. 1-1. Martin, a citizen of New York, was in Kentucky visiting his ailing father. Id. at 2-3. While sitting in standstill traffic on the Gene Snyder Freeway, another driver, Megan Keane, allegedly crashed her vehicle into Martin's at a speed of approximately 72 miles per hour. Id. at 35-36. The force of the crash caused Martin's vehicle to collide with the vehicle stopped in front of his. Id. at 36. Emergency personnel responded to the scene, and Martin was transported to University of Louisville Hospital, where he was pronounced dead later that evening. Id. Keane, a citizen of Kentucky, was allegedly insured by Met USA. Id.

         On November 10, 2016, plaintiff filed suit against Keane and Met USA in Jefferson Circuit Court. ECF No. 1-1. Plaintiff asserted claims for negligence and loss of consortium against Keane, and claims for statutory and common law bad faith against Met USA.[1] Id. Met USA accepted service of process at its New York address on November 22, 2016. ECF No. 1-1, p. 9.

         On July 26, 2017-over eight months after the suit was filed-Met USA removed the case to this court, claiming diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). ECF No. 1. Met USA asserted that it was not the proper defendant in this case because Keane's insurance company was actually Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Met P&C”). Id. at ¶ 5. Met USA further asserted that it was a citizen of North Carolina, not New York, and that Met P&C was a citizen of Rhode Island. Id. at ¶¶ 4-5. It also asserted that the amount-in-controversy exceeded $75, 000. Id. at ¶ 7.

         Plaintiff now seeks to remand the case to Jefferson Circuit Court.

         II. Legal Standard

         Removal to federal court is proper for “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal district court has original diversity jurisdiction over an action between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         To properly remove a case from state court to federal court, “[t]he notice of removal . . . shall be filed within 30 days after receipt by the defendant . . . of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is based . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). If a case is not initially removable, but becomes removable after the 30-day time period, “a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt by the defendant . . . of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order, or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(3).

         As a court of limited jurisdiction, a district court is required to remand any case where federal subject matter is lacking. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). “All doubts as to the propriety of removal are resolved in favor of remand.” Coyne v. American Tobacco Co., 183 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 1999).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff argues that this case should be remanded to Jefferson Circuit Court because (1) Met USA failed to comply with the requirements for notice of removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1446, and (2) there is a lack of complete diversity amongst the parties. Met USA argues, by contrast, that it properly filed notice of removal once there was complete diversity of parties in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(3). These arguments will be addressed in further detail below.

         A. Diversit ...


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