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Roman v. Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 11, 2017

Jose Roman, Jr., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JAMES A. TEILBORG, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court are Plaintiffs Jose Roman, Jr. and Stacy Roman's Motion to Dispute, Oppose and Dismiss Defendant's Petition for Removal of Action from State Court (Arizona), (“Motion to Remand, ” Doc. 7), Motion for Entering a Default Judgment, (“Motion for Default Judgment, ” Doc. 15), and Motion for Court Order to Secure Appearance of a Pro Per Prisoner to Attend Court Ordered Scheduling Conference, (“Motion to Attend, ” Doc. 14). Defendant Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company (“Travelers”) has filed responses to Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand, (Doc. 13), and Motion for Default Judgment, (Doc. 16). Plaintiffs have also filed a Supplement and Affidavit related to their Motion for Default Judgment, (Doc. 17), and Defendant Travelers has filed its Response to the Supplement, (Doc. 18). Finally, Plaintiffs filed a Reply regarding their Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 19). The Court now rules on Plaintiffs' Motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se, filed the instant Complaint in the Superior Court of Arizona in and for the County of Navajo on or around July 6, 2016. (Doc. 1-1 at 2-14). On July 27, 2017, Defendant Travelers removed the case to this Court, asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1446 (2012). (See Doc. 1).

         Plaintiffs' Complaint appears to allege state law claims for breach of an insurance contract and insurance bad faith against Defendants. (Doc. 1-1 at 2-14). Plaintiffs seek damages against Defendants “[f]or the total principal amount of $77, 763.03.” (Id. at 13- 14). Defendant Travelers alleges that Plaintiffs are domiciled in Arizona. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 11). Defendant Travelers is “organized and existing under the laws of the State of Connecticut with its principal place of business in the State of Connecticut.” (Id. at ¶ 12). Defendant Alan D. Schnitzer is a resident of New York, and Defendant Brian W. MacLean is a resident of Connecticut. (Doc. 6 at 1). Plaintiffs do not dispute Defendants' allegations regarding residency or domicile.

         Following removal, on August 9, 2017, Defendant Travelers filed a Motion to Extend Time to Answer the Complaint. (Doc. 8). In its Motion, Defendant Travelers admitted it had failed to timely respond to Plaintiffs' Complaint. (See Id. at 2). On the same day, the Court denied Defendant Travelers's Motion, and Defendant Travelers filed its Answer on August 10, 2017. (Doc. 10).

         II. MOTION TO REMAND

         Plaintiffs move to remand this action to state court, where it was initially filed. In support of the Motion to Remand, Plaintiffs argue the following: (1) “Defendant[s] failed to cite in their petition [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Federal Rule”)] 81 as the basis” for removal, (Doc. 7 at 2-3); (2) “The State of Arizona Court[s] have jurisdiction on this [C]omplaint, ” (id. at 3-4); (3) Removal to federal court is a hardship because Plaintiff Jose Roman, Jr. is currently incarcerated with the Arizona Department of Corrections, (id. at 7-10, 12-13); and (4) Plaintiffs have reevaluated their claimed damages and now only seek $60, 000.00 in damages, (id. at 10-12). Defendant Travelers asserts that removal was proper. (Doc. 13).

         A. Federal Rule 81

         Plaintiffs first argue that the Court should grant their Motion to Remand because Defendant Travelers failed to cite Federal Rule 81 in its Notice of Removal. (Doc. 7 at 2- 3). Defendant Travelers argues that Federal Rule 81 does not affect a defendant's right to remove a case. (Doc. 13 at 1-2). The Court agrees with Defendant Travelers.

         Federal Rule 81 “specifies the action and proceedings to which the [Federal] Rules do or do not apply or to which they apply only to a limited extent.” 12 Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice & Procedure § 3131, at 542 (3d ed. 2014). While Federal Rule 81(c) covers the procedure used for cases following removal to federal court, Federal Rule 81 does not provide the basis for removal. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 81(c).

         Here, Defendant Travelers's right to remove the instant case to this Court was not impeded by its failure to cite Federal Rule 81. Because Federal Rule 81 details the procedure involved in a case after it is removed to federal court, Plaintiffs are incorrect in arguing that Federal Rule 81 provides a basis for removal. Even if the Court construes Plaintiffs' assertions as an argument that Defendant Travelers has failed to follow Federal Rule 81 following removal, Plaintiffs have failed to identify any particular deficiency; furthermore, a failure to follow Federal Rule 81 does not provide a basis to remand a case to state court. Thus, Plaintiffs' argument involving Federal Rule 81 fails.

         B. State Court Jurisdiction

         Next, Plaintiffs argue that because Arizona state courts have jurisdiction over this matter, Defendant Travelers is prohibited from removing the case to federal court. (Doc. 7 at 3-4). In other words, Plaintiffs ...


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