United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KEITH P. ELLISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Abstain and
Remand (Doc. No. 6). After considering the Motion, the
response thereto, and all applicable law, the Court
determines that the Motion should be denied.
dispute arises out of an insurance claim filed by Plaintiff
Pamela Crouch for property damage. See Original Pet.
(Doc. No. 1-1.) On January 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit in
state court against Defendant Nationwide General Insurance
Company, alleging breach of contract, breach of the duty of
good faith and fair dealing, common law fraud, and violations
of the Texas Insurance Code and the Texas Deceptive Trade
Practices Act. Original Pet. ¶¶ 27-44. On February
28, 2017, Defendant removed the case to federal court on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff now
moves to remand the case to state court. (Doc. No. 6.)
district courts have original jurisdiction over civil matters
in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs, and the parties are citizens
of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). If such a
matter is brought in state court, the defendant may remove
the case to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The
removing party bears the burden of establishing that federal
jurisdiction exists. De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47
F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th Cir. 1995).
federal court to decline jurisdiction based on the amount in
controversy, “[i]t must appear to a legal certainty
that the claim is really for less than the jurisdictional
amount.” St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab
Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289 (1938). The court relies on the
amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff, so long as that
claim is apparently made in good faith. Id. at 288.
If the plaintiff does not allege a specific amount of
damages, the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000. De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 11 F.3d 55, 58 (5th
parties do not dispute that complete diversity exists; the
only dispute is over the amount in controversy. (Doc. No. 6
at 2.) In this case, there is no need to look beyond the face
of the Original Petition, since it establishes an amount in
controversy over $75, 000.
Original Petition alleges $26, 825.92 in actual damage to
Plaintiff's property. Original Pet. ¶ 15. However,
the Original Petition also contains a request for treble
damages under Texas Insurance Code §
541.152(b). Id. ¶ 52. Treble damages on
$26, 825.92 results in an amount in controversy over $80,
000, even before other damages are calculated.
Plaintiff urges, her $2, 651 deductible is subtracted from the
$26, 825.92 claimed in the Original Petition, then a full
recovery including treble damages would only amount to $72,
524.76. However, even in this scenario, the total amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. In addition to actual damages,
Plaintiff seeks the 18 percent statutory penalty provided
under Texas Insurance Code § 542.060(a). 
Id. ¶ 53. The parties disagree about the dollar
amount of the statutory penalty. (Doc. No. 6 at 5; Doc. No. 9
at 7.) Even Plaintiffs lower figure of $2, 843.35, however,
pushes the amount in controversy over $75, 000. In addition,
Plaintiff seeks attorney's fees and “all punitive,
additional, and exemplary damages, ” ensuring an amount
in controversy comfortably over the jurisdictional threshold.
Original Pet. at 13.
short, based on the Original Petition, there is no way to
arrive at an amount in controversy under $75, 000. As such,
the Court may not decline jurisdiction based on the amount in
reasons set forth above, the Court finds that Plaintiffs
Motion to Abstain ...