United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge.
cause is before the Court on Plaintiff Cincinnati Insurance
Company's Brief in Support of Its Motion for Default
Judgment (d/e 25) against Defendant Robert Heitbrink, which
the Court construes as a Motion for Default Judgment. Because
entry of a default judgment against Mr. Heitbrink might
result in inconsistent or contradictory judgments, the Motion
is DENIED without prejudice and with leave to refile when the
claims involving the remaining defendant have been resolved.
December 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint for declaratory
judgment (d/e 1) to determine Plaintiff's obligations, if
any, under policies of insurance that Plaintiff issued to Mr.
Heitbrink. Plaintiff brought the suit against Mr. Heitbrink
and Defendant Connie McElhaney, individually and as special
administrator of the estate of William McElhaney.
dispute concerns Mr. Heitbrink's request for insurance
coverage with respect to a lawsuit filed against him by Ms.
McElhaney, individually and as special administrator of the
estate of William McElhaney. See McElhaney v.
Heitbrink, Morgan County Circuit Court, Case No.
2015-L-25 (the “Underlying Lawsuit”). In the
Underlying Lawsuit, Ms. McElhaney seeks damages pursuant to
the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the Illinois Survival
Statute, and the Illinois Rights of Married Persons Act. Ms.
McElhaney alleges that Mr. Heitbrink attacked and assaulted
William McElhaney, resulting in Mr. McElhaney's death.
April 20, 2016, service of Plaintiff's declaratory
judgment action was effectuated on Mr. Heitbrink.
See d/e 8. Mr. Heitbrink, who is currently
incarcerated, has failed to appear, answer, or otherwise
plead to the complaint.
August 10, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Tom
Schanzle-Haskins issued an Order of Default of Robert
Heitbrink (d/e 19) and directed Plaintiff to file a motion
for default judgment within 14 days. On August 24, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment against Mr.
September 28, 2016, this Court denied the motion for default
judgment with leave to refile, noting that Plaintiff did not
allege its principal place of business or the citizenship (as
opposed to the residence) of the Defendants. The Court
directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint properly
alleging the citizenship of the parties in this action.
October 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed its amended complaint (d/e
22) properly alleging the citizenship of the parties in this
action. On October 26, 2016, Ms. McElhaney filed an answer to
the amended complaint. On November 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed
its Brief in Support of Its Motion for Default Judgment,
which the Court is construing as a motion for default
Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). Complete diversity exists between the
parties. Plaintiff is an Ohio corporation with its principal
place of business in Ohio. Am. Compl. ¶ 2 (d/e 22). Mr.
Heitbrink is a citizen of Illinois. Id. ¶ 3.
Ms. McElhaney is a citizen of South Carolina both
individually and as the legal representative of Mr.
McElhaney's estate. Id. ¶¶ 4, 5.
addition, the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000
exclusive of interest and costs. In a declaratory judgment
action, “the amount in controversy is measured by the
value of the object of the litigation.” Hunt v.
Wash. State Apple Ad. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 347
(1977). The object of the litigation is the pecuniary result
that would flow to the plaintiff or the defendant from the
court granting the declaratory judgment. America's
MoneyLine, Inc. v. Coleman, 360 F.3d 762, 786 (7th Cir.
2004). In this case, the value of the Underlying Lawsuit and
the cost of defending the Underlying Lawsuit count toward the
jurisdictional amount. See Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v.
Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536, 539-40 (7th Cir. 2006);
Midland Mgmt. Co. v. Am. Alt. Ins. Corp., 132
F.Supp.3d 1014, 1020 (N.D. Ill. 2015). In the Underlying
Lawsuit, Ms. McElhaney seeks in excess of $50,
for damages arising out of Mr. McElhaney's death.
Moreover, defense costs in the Underlying Lawsuit could
easily exceed $25, 000. Therefore, the Court finds the
amount-in-controversy requirement satisfied. See Back
Doctors Ltd. v. Metro. Property & Cas. Ins. Co., 637
F.3d 827, 830 (7th Cir. 2011) (“unless recovery of an
amount exceeding the jurisdictional minimum is legally
impossible, the case belongs in federal court”).
the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000, this Court has jurisdiction.