United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
Timothy J. Corrigan United States District Judge.
declaratory judgment action is before the Court on Defendants
Maronda Homes, Inc. of Florida and JROD Plastering LLC's
motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
(Docs. 15, 41). Southern-Owners Insurance Company filed
responses (Docs. 25, 42), and Maronda filed a reply (Doc.
30). On January 15, 2019, the Clerk entered default against
Defendants Joseph and Chamroeun Manalansan under Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). (Docs. 20, 21).
August 23, 2013, the Manalansans purchased a home built by
developer and general contractor Maronda. (Doc. 51-2 at 2).
At some time around the fall of 2018, they noticed damage on
the home's exterior stucco finish, which subcontractor
JROD had installed. (Id.). On September 18, 2018,
counsel for the Manalansans sent Maronda a Chapter 558 Notice
of Construction Defects (“§ 558 Notice”),
explaining that estimated repairs to the property would cost
approximately $57, 480.75. (Id. at 2-3). The
estimate did not include any unforeseen or unknown damages
that may be encountered during the repair process.
(Id. at 3).
November 5, 2018, Southern-Owners filed this declaratory
judgment action against Maronda, JROD, and the Manalansans,
seeking a determination regarding whether there is coverage
for the Manalansans' stucco damage under Policy No.
112322-78677882, a commercial general liability insurance
policy issued to JROD. (Doc. 1; Doc. 51 ¶ 24). The
policy was effective January 6, 2011 and was reissued four
times, providing coverage through January 6, 2016. (Doc. 51
¶ 24; Docs. 51-6, 51-7, 51-8, 51-9). The policy named
JROD as the insured and Maronda as an additional insured.
(Doc. 51 ¶¶ 31-32). On June 11, 2019,
Southern-Owners filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 51).
alleges that this Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 51 ¶¶ 2-4). Maronda and
JROD (“Defendants”) do not dispute that the
parties are diverse, but contest that Southern-Owners has
sufficiently alleged that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000. Alternatively, should the Court find that it has
jurisdiction, Defendants request that the Court decline
jurisdiction and dismiss the case because four parallel
claims are currently pending in the Circuit Court for the
Fourth Judicial District in and for Duval County, Florida,
seeking the same declaratory determination regarding the same
policy against the same Defendants. (Doc. 15 at 2-3; Doc. 41
invoke a federal court's diversity jurisdiction, a
plaintiff must allege that the parties are of diverse
citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
28 U.S.C. § 1332. “Federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction, ” Burns v. Windsor Ins.,
Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir.1994), which determine
whether subject matter jurisdiction exists “as of the
time the Complaint was filed, ” Baggett v. First
Nat. Bank of Gainesville, 117 F.3d 1342, 1352 (11th Cir.
1997). See also GMAC Ins. Co. Online, Inc. v. Shaw,
No. 613CV1826ORL28DAB, 2014 WL 12618188, at *3 (M.D. Fla.
Feb. 21, 2014), (amount in controversy must exist “at
the time of the commencement of the action” for
diversity jurisdiction), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 613CV1826ORL28DAB, 2014 WL 12621475 (M.D.
Fla. Mar. 24, 2014).
a plaintiff seeks . . . declaratory relief, the amount in
controversy is the monetary value of the object of the
litigation from the plaintiff's perspective.”
Federated Mut. Ins. Co. v. McKinnon Motors, LLC, 329
F.3d 805, 807 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting Cohen v. Office
Depot, Inc., 204 F.3d 1069, 1077 (11th Cir. 2000)).
“[W]here jurisdiction is based on a claim for
indeterminate damages, the . . . ‘legal certainty
test' gives way, and the party seeking to invoke federal
jurisdiction bears the burden of proving by a preponderance
of the evidence that the claim on which it is basing
jurisdiction meets the jurisdictional minimum.”
Id. “A conclusory allegation . . . that the
jurisdictional amount is satisfied, without setting forth the
underlying facts supporting such an assertion, is
insufficient to meet the [plaintiff's] burden.”
Bradley v. Kelly Servs., Inc., 224 Fed.Appx. 893,
895 (11th Cir. 2007) (alterations in original).
insurer seeks a declaration that it has “no duty to
defend or indemnify its insured in an underlying lawsuit,
” the amount in controversy is determined by examining
the following factors: “(1) the coverage limits under
the insurance policy; (2) the amount of damages sought in the
underlying lawsuit; and (3) the pecuniary value of the
obligation to defend the underlying lawsuit.”
Clarendon Am. Ins. Co. v. Miami River Club, Inc.,
417 F.Supp.2d 1309, 1316 (S.D. Fla. 2006) (citations
alleges that the amount in controversy requirement is
3. The amount in controversy here exceeds $75, 000 because,
in an insurance coverage action, the amount in controversy is
the “value of the object of litigation from the
plaintiff's perspective.” See QBE Ins. Corp. v.
Surfside Properties & Mgmt., Inc., 2016 WL 6650713,
at *1 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 10, 2016). “When an insurer seeks
a declaration that it has ‘no duty to defend or
indemnify its insured in an underlying lawsuit,' the
amount in controversy is determined by examining the
following factors: ‘(1) the coverage limits under the
insurance policy; (2) the amount of damages sought in the
underlying lawsuit; and (3) the pecuniary value of the
obligation to defend the underlying lawsuit.'”
Id. (quoting Clarendon Am. Ins. Co. v. Miami
River Club, Inc., 417 F.Supp.2d 1309 (S.D. Fla. 2006)).
4. Here, the policy limits are $1, 000, 000 per occurrence,
the underlying claimants are seeking at least $57, 480.75,
and defense costs are being incurred. Thus, the amount in
controversy is ...