United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
C. BUCKLEW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on two motions: (1)
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Doc. No. 11), which
Defendant opposes (Doc. No. 12); and (2) Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 10), which Defendant opposes (Doc.
No. 12). The parties filed reply briefs. (Doc. No. 18, 19).
The Court held an evidentiary hearing on these motions on
August 30, 2019. As explained below, both motions are
Branko Krpic filed this case in state court on April 11, 2019
for under-insured motorist (“UM”) benefits.
Specifically, on September 29, 2018, Plaintiff was a
passenger in an UBER vehicle being driven by Jorge Guillermo
Angulo. Plaintiff was injured when a vehicle driven by
Matthew Connor James collided with the vehicle that Plaintiff
was riding in. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant
Progressive Express Insurance Company, the insurer of
Angulo's vehicle, for UM benefits.
removed the case to this Court on May 21, 2019 based on
diversity of citizenship. Plaintiff alleged in his complaint
that he is a resident of Washington, and Defendant alleged in
its Notice of Removal that it is a citizen of Ohio. On June
20, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend his
complaint in order to assert a negligence claim against
Angulo, who is a citizen of Florida. Plaintiff also filed the
instant motion to remand the case to state court if the
amendment is allowed, arguing that diversity of citizenship
would no longer exist because he contends that he is a
citizen of Florida. Defendant opposes both motions, arguing
that leave to amend should not be granted, as Plaintiff knew
of any potential claim that he had against Angulo prior to
filing suit and that Plaintiff is seeking leave to amend
solely to destroy diversity.
prompting by the Court, Plaintiff clarified that he moved to
Florida in July of 2018-prior to filing the case in state
court. Defendant points out that simply moving to Florida
does not make Plaintiff a citizen of Florida; instead, the
Court must determine whether his move was temporary or
whether he intended to remain in Florida at the time that the
case was removed.
Plaintiff was a citizen of Washington at the time of removal,
then the addition of a Florida defendant thereafter does not
destroy the Court's subject matter jurisdiction over the
case, as complete diversity continues to exist. If, however,
Plaintiff was a citizen of Florida at the time of removal,
then the addition of a Florida defendant would destroy the
Court's diversity jurisdiction over this case.
Plaintiff is attempting to add Angulo as a defendant solely
to defeat diversity jurisdiction and whether the addition of
Angulo will destroy diversity jurisdiction are issues that
are factually disputed. As a result, the Court held an
evidentiary hearing to address these issues.
and one of his attorneys, Danko Borkovic, testified at the
hearing. Based on their testimony, the Court finds that
Plaintiff has been a citizen of Florida since he moved to
Florida in July of 2018.
Findings of Fact
owns an interstate trucking company, and prior to the
accident at issue, he was a truck driver. Plaintiff's
trucking company is registered in Illinois, and it drove
trucks throughout 48 states. As a truck driver, Plaintiff had
a CDL license. His CDL license was issued from the state of
Washington in 2015, because, according to Plaintiff, that
state had the most flexible CDL licensing.
address on Plaintiff's Washington license was for a house
that he sometimes stayed at when his trucking work brought
him to Washington. Two of Plaintiff's friends live at the
Washington address; Plaintiff does not own or rent the
property at the Washington address. Since moving to Florida,
he has not spent one night at the Washington address.
to the accident, Plaintiff lived with his wife in New York;
they lived with his wife's mother-figure in her house
since 2017. Plaintiff testified that both he and his wife
intended to move to Florida to live here permanently.
moved to Florida first, and on July 25, 2018, he entered into
a ten-month lease for an apartment; the lease ended on May
26, 2019. (Pla. Ex. 2). He selected a ten-month lease term,
because that lease term was the cheapest. At all times, he
intended his move to Florida to be permanent.
time of the accident on September 29, 2018, Plaintiff had a
Washington driver's license. Therefore, when he treated
with doctors for his injuries from the car accident, he
listed his Washington address on his paperwork so it would
match the address on his license. However, there is evidence
that when the paperwork contained ...