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Carlson-Oesterich v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., S.I.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 27, 2017

Tina Carlson-Oesterich, Plaintiff,
v.
American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Paul A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. For the following reasons, the Motion is denied without prejudice and this case is remanded to the state court because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

         BACKGROUND

         On May 9, 2011, an uninsured motorist rear-ended and injured Plaintiff Tina Carlson-Oesterich. (Compl. (Docket No. 1-1) ¶¶ I-III, VII[1].) Carlson-Oesterich had a car-insurance policy with Defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company, which provided uninsured motorist coverage. (Id. ¶ IV.) Carlson-Oesterich alleges that American Family is obligated to pay for her medical expenses sustained as a result of the car crash and seeks damages “in an amount in excess of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50, 000.00).” (Id. ¶ VII.)

         On May 8, 2017, one day before the six-year statute of limitations ran, Carlson-Oesterich mailed a copy of her Summons and Complaint to American Family and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and also executed an affidavit of compliance. (Hellie Decl. (Docket No. 12) Ex. 1.) On May 30, American Family filed an Answer in state court. (Id. Ex. 2.) American Family subsequently removed the case to this Court. (Notice of Removal (Docket No. 1).) American Family now moves to dismiss Carlson-Oesterich's Complaint for insufficient service of process.

         DISCUSSION

         Although the parties do not raise the issue, the Court must determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction before addressing American Family's Motion. “It is well established that a court has a special obligation to consider whether it has subject matter jurisdiction in every case.” Hart v. United States, 630 F.3d 1085, 1089 (8th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). All federal courts are obligated to consider sua sponte their jurisdiction to entertain a case when they believe that jurisdiction may be lacking. Clark v. Baka, 593 F.3d 712, 714 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).

         The burden of proving federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking to establish it. Great Rivers Habitat All. v. Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, 615 F.3d 985, 988 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). American Family has the burden to prove subject matter jurisdiction because it removed the case to federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         American Family contends that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction because the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and is between citizens of different states. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Although recognizing that Carlson-Oesterich's Complaint only demands damages in excess of $50, 000, American Family maintains that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(A)(ii).

         Section 1446(c)(2) reads in full:

If removal of a civil action is sought on the basis of the jurisdiction conferred by § 1332(a), the sum demanded in good faith in the initial pleading shall be deemed to be the amount in controversy, except that-
(A) the notice of removal may assert the amount in controversy if the initial pleading seeks-
(i) nonmonetary relief; or
(ii) a money judgment, but the State practice either does not permit demand for a specific sum or permits recovery of damages in ...

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