United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Reona J. Daly United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss (Doc. 15) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1). Plaintiff timely filed a response (Doc. 16).
a declaratory judgment action in which Plaintiff seeks a
declaration that it owes no duty to defend or indemnify
Matson Farms, Inc. in a lawsuit currently pending in the
Circuit Court for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, Jasper County,
Illinois. The state court case was filed by Keith
Matson against Matson Farms, Inc. seeking damages arising out
of a leak in a storage tank that allowed fertilizer owned by
Matson Farms, Inc. to escape, allegedly causing property
damage to property owned by Keith Matson. The farm insurance
policy, number 42-648-255-03, was issued to Matson Farms,
Inc. for coverage commencing on March 15, 2014 and expiring
Match 15, 2015.
to the complaint, Owners Insurance Company, was and is an
Ohio mutual company with its principal place of business in
Lansing, Michigan, and therefore, a citizen of Ohio and
Michigan. Defendant Matson Farms, Inc. is an Illinois
corporation with its principal place of business in Jasper,
Illinois and, therefore, a citizen of Illinois. Defendants
Keith and Stacy Matson are natural persons residing and
domiciled in Illinois and are owners of real property and
improvements located in Jasper County, Illinois, and,
therefore, are citizens of Illinois. Plaintiff asserts this
Court possesses original jurisdiction of this civil action
because the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and there
is diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). There is no contest that there is diversity of
citizenship between the parties.
ask the Court to dismiss this case for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction arguing the amount in controversy does not
exceed the sum or value of $75, 000 as required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). The prayer for relief in the underlying state
court case seeks the amount of $73, 000 for compensation of
damaged property. Defendants assert the amount in controversy
is measured by the value of the object of the litigation.
Additionally, Defendants point out a declaratory judgment
matter involving the same occurrence, insurance policy, and
parties at issue in Plaintiff's Complaint was filed in
Jasper County No. 2014-CH-16. Defendants assert the issue
raised in this Complaint should be included as part of the
state chancery case, rather than as a separate matter in a
12(b)(1) requires dismissal if the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The Seventh Circuit has
stated that although a plaintiff may easily defeat a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the
same is not true for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Bastien v. AT &
T Wireless Services, Inc., 205 F.3d 983, 990 (7th Cir.
2000). The Court must “accept as true all well-pleaded
factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff.” St. John's United
Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d
616, 625 (7th Cir.2007) (citation omitted). Yet, a court may
receive and weigh evidence outside the allegations in the
complaint to determine if it has subject matter jurisdiction
over the case. Id. In any event, the plaintiff has
the burden of proving that subject matter jurisdiction
actions seeking declaratory relief, the Court begins its
analysis by looking at the amount in controversy sought in
the underlying Court case. Chase v. Shop "N Save
Warehouse Foods, Inc., 110 F.3d 424, 427 (7th Cir. 1997)
(stating that “the starting point in determining the
amount in controversy is typically the face of the complaint,
where the plaintiff indicates the claim's value in her
request for relief.”). This is not, however, the end of
the inquiry. The jurisdictional minimum in diversity cases is
not just the amount sought by the plaintiff but the amount at
stake to either party to the suit. BEM I, L.L.C. v.
Anthropologie, Inc., 301 F.3d 548, 553 (7th Cir. 2002).
A liability insurer's potential outlay for indemnity
counts toward amount-in-controversy diversity jurisdiction
criterion in an insurer's action seeking declaration of
no duty to defend or indemnify. Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v.
Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536, 539 (7th Cir. 2006). “Only
if it is “legally certain” that the recovery
(from plaintiff's perspective) or cost of complying with
the judgment (from defendant's) will be less than the
jurisdictional floor may the case be dismissed.”
Id. at 543.
argue the amount in controversy is not met because the relief
sought in the state court action is only $73, 000. Plaintiff
argues when taking into consideration the cost of defense, in
addition to the $73, 000, the minimum amount-in-controversy
required for federal jurisdiction is established as a matter
of law. The Court finds the stakes of the suit exceed the
$75, 000 minimum and the case is properly in federal court
under the diversity jurisdiction.
argue the issues raised in this case should be decided by the
state court in the declaratory judgment filed in Jasper
County No. 2014-CH-16 because at issue in that case is a
coverage dispute matter involving the same occurrence,
insurance policy, and parties in this case. Defendants claim
Plaintiff is “judge shopping” by filing this
claim in federal court and that for purposes of judicial
economy, this matter ...