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Bennett v. First American Property & Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 1, 2015

Leigh Bennett, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
First American Property & Casualty Insurance Company, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

JAMES A. TEILBORG, Senior District Judge.

Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion to Remand, (Doc. 25), and motions to sever by Defendants American Strategic Insurance, Country Mutual Insurance Company Incorporated, Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company, Farm Bureau Property and Casualty Company, and Allstate Insurance Company (collectively, "Removing Defendants"). (Docs. 19, 21, 22, 30, 40). The Court now rules on the motions.

I. Background

This case involves insurance-related claims by sixteen plaintiffs against fourteen defendants. The claims all center on a January, 2013 fire in Yarnell, Arizona that destroyed Plaintiffs' homes. Removing Defendants are insurance companies that insured Plaintiffs' homes at the time of the fire.

The state court granted motions to sever submitted by Removing Defendants. (Doc. 1-1, Exh. D). Apparently, however, the state court did not assign separate case numbers to the severed cases before Removing Defendants removed their cases to federal court. (Doc. 19-1, Exh. A). As a result, when Removing Defendants removed, the cases were removed together as though no severance had taken place. ( Id. ).

Removing Defendants request that this court "administratively" sever their cases to match the order issued by the state court. (Docs. 19, 21, 22, 30, 40). Specifically, they request that, in accordance with the state court order, certain parties be allowed to litigate their claims separate from the cases to which they were joined, as follows:

• Plaintiff Michael Manone v. Defendant Farm Bureau Property and Casualty Company (Doc. 1-1, Exh. D; Doc. 1-1 at 54)
• Plaintiffs Laurie and Kenneth Colvin v. Defendant American Strategic Insurance (Doc. 1-1, Exh. D; Doc. 9-2 at 133-34)
• Plaintiff Bobby Lewis v. Defendant Allstate Insurance Company (Doc. 1-1, Exh. D; Doc. 9-3 at 55)
• Plaintiffs Shelli and Norbert Laskowski v. Defendant Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company (Doc. 1-1, Exh. D; Doc. 1-5 at 6)
• Plaintiffs Judy and Thomas Columbus v. Defendant Country Mutual Insurance Company Incorporated (Doc. 1-1, Exh. D; Doc. 13-1, Exh. D at 6)

After the cases were removed, Plaintiffs moved to remand, stating that they intend to amend their complaint to join Removing Defendants' claims adjusters as defendants. Plaintiff contends that the claims adjusters are Arizona residents and will therefore destroy diversity, divesting the Court of jurisdiction.[1]

II. Discussion

A. Motions ...


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