United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE ROSEMARY MARAJIEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bonnie Befort (“Plaintiff”) initiated this action
by filing a Complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court on
June 25, 2018. (Doc. 1-3 at 2.) On August 13, 2018, Defendant
Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company
(“Defendant”) removed the action to federal
court. (Doc. 1.) Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand. (Doc. 14.) The Motion is fully briefed.
(See Docs. 16, 20.)
to her Complaint, Plaintiff is the named insured under a
homeowners' insurance policy issued by Defendant covering
a residential property in Mayer, Arizona. (Doc. 1-3 at 2-3.)
Plaintiff alleges that she timely reported a claim for fire
and/or smoke damage, and that Defendant processed the claim
as a loss covered under the homeowners' insurance policy.
(Id. at 3-5.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
unreasonably handled the claim. (See Id. at 4-8.)
Plaintiff raises a breach of contract claim and a claim for
breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
(Id. At 8-9.) Her Complaint also seeks to compel an
appraisal pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1502. (Id. at
9-10.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, including
damages for mental and emotional distress, as well as
punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.
(Id. at 11.) Plaintiff's Complaint does not
demand a sum certain.
same date that Plaintiff filed her Complaint, she also filed
a Certificate Regarding Compulsory Arbitration (Doc. 1-4) and
a Notice of Offer of Judgment (Doc. 1-7). The Certificate
Regarding Compulsory Arbitration certifies that the case is
not subject to compulsory arbitration as provided by the
Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 1-4 at 2.) The Offer
of Judgment states that Plaintiff will accept judgment in her
favor in the sum of $74, 000, “inclusive of all
damages, all taxable court costs, all interest, and all
attorneys' fees.” (Doc. 1-8 at 2-3.)
served the Summons and Complaint, along with the Certificate
Regarding Compulsory Arbitration and the Offer of Judgment,
on Defendant's statutory agent, the Arizona Department of
Insurance (“ADI”), on July 10, 2018. (Doc. 1-10
at 2; see also Doc. 1-9 at 2.) Defendant received
the documents on July 13, 2018. (Doc. 1 at 2.) On August 13,
2018, Defendants removed the case to federal court pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446, on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1.)
Plaintiff is a citizen of Arizona. (Doc. 1 at 2; Doc. 1-3 at
1.) Defendant Farm Bureau is an Iowa corporation with its
principal place of business in West Des Moines, Iowa. (Doc. 1
federal district court has “original jurisdiction of
all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs,
and is between . . . citizens of different States[.]”
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). A defendant may remove
“any civil action brought in a State court of which the
district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A notice of
removal must “be filed within 30 days after the receipt
by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of
the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon
which such action or proceeding is based.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1446(b). Although the time limit for removal is not
jurisdictional, it is mandatory and a timely objection to a
late notice of removal will defeat removal. See Fristoe
v. Reynolds Metals Co., 615 F.2d 1209, 1212 (9th Cir.
1980) (per curiam); see also Cantrell v. Great Republic
Ins. Co., 873 F.2d 1249, 1256 (9th Cir. 1989).
complaint does not specify the amount of damages sought, the
defendant bears “the burden of proving, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000” in order to support removal based on
diversity jurisdiction. Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281
F.3d 837, 839 (9th Cir. 2002) (per curiam); see also
28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2); Guglielmino v. McKee Foods
Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 2007). A defendant
must offer more than “conclusory allegations” in
order to meet this burden of proof. Singer v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th Cir. 1997).
The amount in controversy for purposes of diversity
jurisdiction “is determined from the pleadings as they
exist at the time a petition for removal is filed.”
Eagle v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 769 F.2d 541, 545
(9th Cir. 1985).
is a “strong presumption” against removal, and
“[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is
any doubt as to the right of removal in the first
instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564,
566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). “If at any time
before final judgment it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Motion to Remand, Plaintiff argues that Defendant's
Notice of Removal is untimely because it was filed more than
30 days after Defendant was served with the Summons and
Complaint. (Doc. 14 at 3-5.) Plaintiff also argues that this
Court lacks diversity jurisdiction because the amount in
controversy is less than $75, 000. (Id. at 5-9.)
Timeliness of Removal
Arizona law, the exclusive method for Plaintiff to serve
Defendant was through the ADI. See A.R.S. §
20-221(B); see also Phoenix of Hartford, Inc. v.
HarmonyRests., Inc., 560 P.2d 441, 442-43
(Ariz. App. 1977). The parties dispute whether the 30-day
time limit for removal began to run when Plaintiff served a
copy of the Summons and Complaint on the ADI, ...