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Soares v. Scottsdale Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

August 8, 2019

KARLA SOARES, Plaintiff,



         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Plaintiff Karla Soares' (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand, ECF No. [11] (“Motion”). Defendant Scottsdale Insurance Company (“Defendant”) filed its Response in Opposition, ECF No. [17] (“Response”), to which Plaintiff did not reply. The Court has considered the Motion, the Response, the record in this case, the applicable law and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida, seeking damages for breach of contract based on an insurance policy issued by Defendant. ECF No. [5-1] at 4-5. Plaintiff alleged that the damages in this action were in excess of $15, 000.00, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney's fees. Id. at 4. In addition to damages, the Complaint sought to recover attorney's fees pursuant to Florida Statutes, § 627.428(1). Id. at 5.

         On June 11, 2019, Defendant filed its Notice of Removal on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. [1]. Plaintiff now files the instant Motion seeking to remand the action back to state court, arguing a lack of diversity jurisdiction because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000.00. ECF No. [11].


         Title 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) vests a district court with subject matter jurisdiction when the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. Id. A party may remove the action from state court to federal court if the action is within the federal court's subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         “A removing defendant bears the burden of proving proper federal jurisdiction.” Coffey v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC, 994 F.Supp.2d 1281, 1283 (S.D. Fla. 2014). “Where, as here, the plaintiff has not pled a specific amount of damages, the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdiction requirement.Pretka v. Kolter City Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d 744, 752 (11th Cir. 2010); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Further, in determining whether subject matter jurisdiction exists, the Court must focus on the amount in controversy at the time of removal, not at any later point. Pretka, 608 F.3d at 751 (citations omitted); E.S.Y., Inc. v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 217 F.Supp.3d 1356, 1360 (S.D. Fla. 2015). “To determine whether this standard is met, a court first examines whether ‘it is facially apparent from the complaint that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional requirement.'” Miedema v. Maytag Corp., 450 F.3d 1322, 1330 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Williams v. Best Buy Co., Inc., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001)), abrogated on other grounds by Dudley v. Eli Lilly & Co., 778 F.3d 909 (11th Cir. 2014). “If the jurisdictional amount is not facially apparent from the complaint, the court should look to the notice of removal and may require evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at the time the case was removed.” Id. (quoting Williams, 269 F.3d at 1319).

         “[A] removing defendant is not required to prove the amount in controversy beyond all doubt or to banish all uncertainty about it.” Pretka, 608 F.3d at 754 (citations omitted). “Where, as in this case, the complaint alleges an unspecified amount of damages, ‘the district court is not bound by the plaintiff's representations regarding its claim,' and may review the record for evidence relevant to the amount in controversy.” DO Rests., Inc. v. Aspen Specialty Ins. Co., 984 F.Supp.2d 1342, 1344 (S.D. Fla. 2013) (citing Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., 613 F.3d 1058, 1061 (11th Cir. 2010)). Moreover, “defendants may submit a wide range of evidence in order to satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of removal, ” including “affidavits, declarations, or other documentation.” Pretka, 608 F.3d at 755. The Court may also use its judicial experience and make reasonable inferences and deductions to determine the amount in controversy. See Roe, 613 F.3d at 1061-62; Pretka, 608 F.3d at 754 (discussing the difference between reasonable deductions and inferences with “conjecture, speculation, or star gazing”); E.S.Y., Inc., 217 F.Supp.3d at 1360.

         Through this lens, the Court addresses the Motion.


         Plaintiff's Motion asserts that this case should be remanded back to state court because the $75, 000.00 amount in controversy requirement to satisfy diversity jurisdiction has not been met. However, before examining the jurisdictional issue, the Court first addresses Defendant's procedural argument that Plaintiff's Motion failed to comply with Local Rule 7.1(a)(1).

         A. Plaintiff's Failure to Comply with Local Rule 7.1(a)(1)

         As an initial matter, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's Motion should be denied for failure to comply with Local Rule 7.1(a)(1), which requires “a memorandum of law citing supporting authorities” to be incorporated into motions to remand filed before this Court. S.D. Fla. L.R. 7.1(a)(1). Upon examination, Plaintiff's Motion contains sparse citations to the applicable provisions of the United States Code and fails to include any further “memorandum of law citing supporting authorities, ” as required by Rule 7.1(a)(1). Id. As such, the Court reemphasizes the importance of litigants' adherence to its Local Rules and reminds Plaintiff of the obligation to clearly set forth a legal basis for any arguments presented through adequate citations to supporting legal authorities. Phillips v. Hillcrest Med. Ctr., 244 F.3d 790, ...

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