Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Southern-Owners Insurance Co. v. Maronda Homes, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

July 8, 2019

SOUTHERN-OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
MARONDA HOMES, INC. OF FLORIDA, JROD PLASTERING LLC, JOSEPH MANALANSAN, and CHAMROEUN MANALANSAN, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Timothy J. Corrigan United States District Judge.

         This 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).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On 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).

         On 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.[1] (Doc. 51).

         Southern-Owners 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 at 4).

         II. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

         To 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).

         “When 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).

         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.” Clarendon Am. Ins. Co. v. Miami River Club, Inc., 417 F.Supp.2d 1309, 1316 (S.D. Fla. 2006) (citations omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Southern-Owners alleges that the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied:

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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.