United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
MT. HAWLEY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
ADAMS HOMES OF NORTHWEST FLORIDA, INC. and MARIE JEAN-FRANCOIS, Defendants.
C. BUCKLEW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on Defendant Adams Homes of
Northwest Florida, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. No.
12). Plaintiff opposes the motion. (Doc. No. 17). As
explained below, the motion is denied.
Mt. Hawley Insurance Company filed this declaratory judgment
action, in which it asks this Court to declare that there is
no coverage for its insured, Adams Homes of Northwest
Florida, Inc. (“Adams Homes”), for the claims
asserted by Defendant Marie Jean-Francois in the underlying
state court action. Specifically, according to the state
court complaint, Adams Homes and its subcontractors violated
certain building codes and negligently constructed Marie
Jean-Francois' home. In the instant declaratory judgment
action, Plaintiff asks the Court to declare that it has no
duty to defend Adams Homes in the underlying state court
action or to indemnify Adams Homes for any liability that may
be established in the state court action.
Motion to Dismiss
response to Plaintiff's amended complaint, Adams Homes
moves for dismissal, arguing that this Court lacks diversity
subject matter jurisdiction. Specifically, Adams Homes argues
that the amount in controversy does not exceed the $75, 000
threshold, because Marie Jean-Francois obtained an estimate
of the cost to repair her home totaling only $55, 196.03.
(Doc. No. 12-1).
Standard of Review
Court has explained the standard of review for this type of
attack on subject matter jurisdiction as follows:
Attacks on subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1) come in two forms. “Facial attacks” on
the complaint “require the court to merely look and see
if the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject
matter jurisdiction, and the allegations in the complaint are
taken as true for the purposes of the motion.”
“Factual attacks, ” on the other hand, challenge
“the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact,
irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside the
pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits, are
considered.” . . . “[W]hen the attack is
factual, . . . the trial court is free to weigh the evidence
and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear
In order to invoke a federal district court's diversity
jurisdiction, a plaintiff must claim, among other things,
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of
interest and costs. “When a plaintiff seeks injunctive
relief, the amount in controversy is the monetary value of
the object of the litigation from the plaintiff's
perspective.” . . . Generally, “[i]t must appear
to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less than
the jurisdictional amount to justify dismissal.”
However, where 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.
Dairyland Ins. Co. v. Chadwick, 2008 WL 912428, at
*2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 1, 2008)(internal citations omitted).
issue before this Court is whether Plaintiff can show that
the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Plaintiff argues
that the $55, 196.03 repair cost may be undervalued because
it is merely an estimate. Furthermore, the estimate
is from October 2017, and the cost of the repair may have
increased over the past two years. However, even if the Court
accepts the $55, 196.03 value for the repairs, the Court must
also consider the costs of defending the underlying state
court action. See id. at *3; Mount Vernon Fire
Ins. Co. v. Plant Clinic, 2009 WL 10668243, at *2 (S.D.
Fla. Dec. 21, 2009); Integon National Ins. Co. v.
Ben's Reliable Roofing, Inc., 2010 WL 11506048, at
*1 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 26, 2010); Canopius U.S. Ins., Inc. v.
Prestige General Cleaning Services, Inc., ...