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.

Caceres v. Scottsdale Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

December 5, 2019

JACLYN CACERES and XAVIER CACERES, Plaintiffs,
v.
SCOTTSDALE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          BETH BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Plaintiffs Jaclyn Caceres and Xavier Caceres's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) Motion to Remand, ECF No. [12] (“Motion”). Defendant Scottsdale Insurance Company (“Defendant”) filed its Response in Opposition, ECF No. [17] (“Response”), to which Plaintiffs replied, ECF No. [18] (“Reply”). The Court has reviewed the Motion, all opposing and supporting submissions and related exhibits, the record in this case, and the applicable law, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts giving rise to the instant action are as follows. The parties entered into an insurance contract, bearing Policy Number DFS1139525, which was effective from September 11, 2016, to September 11, 2017 (“2017 Policy”). ECF No. [1-3] ¶ 5; ECF No. [17-1] at 2, ¶ 6. On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma struck South Florida and damaged Plaintiffs' home. ECF No. [1-3] ¶ 7. Plaintiffs notified Defendant of the loss pursuant to the 2017 Policy. Id. ¶¶ 5-7. Defendant assigned Claim Number 01787768 to this loss. ECF No. [17-1] at 2, ¶ 8. On November 10, 2017, Defendant issued Plaintiffs a check in the amount of $10, 975.00, listing the Claim Number 1787768. ECF No. [1] ¶ 7; ECF No. [17-3]. The 2017 Policy also carried a wind deductible in the amount of $5, 853.68. ECF No. [1] ¶ 7.

         The parties later renewed their insurance contract under the same Policy Number DFS1139525, which was effective from September 11, 2018, to September 11, 2019 (“2019 Policy”). ECF No. [17-1] at 2, ¶ 7. In mid May 2019, under this subsequent 2019 Policy, Plaintiffs reported a separate claim for property damage due to heavy rain and roof collapse, to which Defendant assigned the Claim Number 01893418. Id. at 2, ¶ 10. On June 12, 2019, Defendant issued Plaintiffs a check in the amount of $7, 975.04, for Claim Number 01893418. Id. at 2, ¶ 11; ECF No. [12-2].[1]

         Prior to this action being filed, on June 22, 2019, Plaintiffs presented Defendant with a repair estimate in the amount of $91, 862.51. ECF No. [1] ¶ 8; ECF No. [1-2]; ECF No. [12-4]. This estimate listed September 10, 2017, as the date of loss, but listed the Claim Number 01893418. ECF No. [12-2]. The repair estimate covered the estimated damages for both the claim under Claim Number 01787768 and Claim Number 01893418. See ECF No. [17-1] at 5-6; ECF No. [17-2]; ECF No. [17-4]; ECF No. [18] at 5; ECF No. [18-6] ¶¶ 5-6.

         On September 5, 2019, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a Complaint in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida. ECF No. [1-1]. Defendant was served with process on September 19, 2019. ECF No. [1] ¶ 3. Plaintiffs' Complaint generally alleges that they are seeking damages in excess of $15, 000.00. ECF No. [1-3] ¶ 1. On October 9, 2019, Defendant removed the state court action to federal court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. ECF No. [1] (“Notice”). Defendant indicated that the parties to this action are completely diverse and the amount in controversy in this case is $75, 033.83, based on the $91, 862.51 repair estimate minus the $10, 975.00 check paid and the $5, 853.68 wind deductible. Id.

         Plaintiffs now file the instant Motion seeking to remand this action back to the Circuit Court, arguing a lack of diversity jurisdiction, although the parties are citizens of different states, because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000.00. See generally ECF No. [12]. Specifically, Plaintiffs argue that this Court lacks diversity jurisdiction because (1) Defendant cannot use a pre-suit damage estimate as a basis for establishing the amount in controversy, and (2) even using the pre-suit damage estimate, Defendant failed to account for the second check paid to Plaintiffs, which would decrease the amount in controversy from $75, 033.83 to $67, 058.79. See generally Id. Plaintiffs also request an award of attorney's fees incurred as a result of the allegedly improper removal. Id. at 11-12.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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 a 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).

         “Removal is a matter of federal right, ” but on a motion to remand, “‘ambiguities are generally construed against removal.'” Butler v. Polk, 592 F.2d 1293, 1296 (5th Cir. 1979);[2] see also Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941). Nonetheless, “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.

         III. ...


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.