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Miller v. Allstate Texas Lloyd's

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

August 4, 2017

Michael Miller, Plaintiff,
v.
Allstate Texas Lloyd's, Timothy Lee Doane, and Chris Draper, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GRAY H. MILLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is plaintiff Michael Miller's motion to remand. Dkt. 7. Having considered the motion, response, petition, and the applicable law, the court is of the opinion that the motion should be DENIED.

         I. Background

         This is an insurance dispute between Miller and defendants Allstate Texas Lloyd's (“Allstate”), Timothy Lee Doane, and Chris Draper (collectively, “Defendants”). At all times relevant to this matter, Miller owned property located at 22538 August Leaf Drive, Tomball, Texas 77375 (the “Property”). Dkt. 1, Ex. 2 (state-court petition) at 3. Miller also maintained a homeowner's insurance policy (the “Policy”) on the Property through Allstate. Id. Miller purchased the Policy from Draper, an insurance agent for Allstate. Id. According to Miller, Draper told him that the Policy included hail and windstorm coverage. Id. Allstate responds that the Policy plainly covers windstorm and hail damage unless the damage is to the Property's interior and not the result of a storm-created opening in the roof or wall. Dkt. 8 at 7-10.

         The Policy states:

Section I - Perils Insured Against Coverage[] A (Dwelling) and Coverage B (Personal Property)
We insure against physical loss to the property described in Coverage A (Dwelling) and Coverage B (Personal Property) caused by a peril listed below, unless the loss is excluded in Section I Exclusions.
2. Windstorm, Hurricane and Hail.
This peril does not cover:
b) loss caused by rain, snow, sleet, sand or dust whether or not driven by wind, unless the direct force of wind or hail makes an opening in the roof or wall and the rain, snow, sand or dust enters through this opening and causes the damage.

Dkt. 8 at 7-8.

         On or about April 18, 2016, the Property was damaged by a severe storm. Dkt. 1, Ex. 2 at 3. Miller asserts that “[d]amaged areas of the property include, but are not limited to the roof, vents, flashings, windows, window screens, fascia, gutters, downspouts, HVAC system, shed, and fencing.” Id. at 3-4. After the Property was damaged, Miller submitted a claim against the Policy to Allstate. Id. at 3. Allstate then “assigned or hired Doane to adjust the claim.” Id. at 4. On or around December 14, 2016, Doane inspected the Property, and found $435.46 in covered damage. Id. at 4. Miller claims that Doane's assessment undervalued the amount of damage to the property and that Doane misrepresented the cause of damage to the Property. Id. Miller claims that although the damage to the Property is estimated at $23, 446.51, he has received $0.00 from Allstate for damage to the Property. Id. at 5.

         On or about April 24, 2017, Miller filed suit against Defendants in the 151st Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. Dkt. 1, Ex. 1. Miller asserts causes of action (1) against Draper for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”) and the Texas Insurance Code; (2) against Allstate for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and violations of the DTPA and Texas Insurance Code; and (3) against Doane for fraud, negligence, gross negligence, and violations of the DTPA and the Texas Insurance Code. Dkt. 1, Ex. 2 at 7-17 (citing Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 17.41-63 (West 2017), Tex. Ins. Code Ann. §§ 541- 42, 4003, 4101 (West 2017); Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 41.001(11)(A)-(B) (West 2017)).

         On June 5, 2017, Allstate, Doane, and Draper removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a)(1), 1441(a), and 1446. Dkt. 1. On June 30, 2017, Miller filed a motion to remand. Dkt. 7. On July 20, 2017, Defendants responded. Dkt. 8. The motion is now ripe for disposition.

         II. ...


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