United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
QUENTIN GROSSHART, individually, and as class representative, Plaintiff,
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO., LEANA MASSEY, JOHN DOES 1-25, and JANE DOES 1-25, Defendants.
Whipple United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Plaintiff Quentin Grosshart's
(“Grosshart”) Motion for Remand Based on the
Local Controversy Exception and Comity (the
“Motion”). See Doc. 10. Defendant State
Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State
Farm”) filed suggestions in opposition (Doc. 13), and
Grosshart filed a reply brief (Doc. 20). For the reasons set
forth below, the Motion is DENIED because the Court finds it
has jurisdiction over this case.
January 2008, Grosshart was injured in an automobile accident
and received medical treatment. He then made a claim upon an
insurance policy issued by State Farm to non-party William
Hall. After negotiations, Grosshart agreed to
settle his claim for $11, 600. In a letter dated December 8,
2009, Defendant Leana Massey (“Massey”)-who is a
State Farm Claim Representative-provided Grosshart a
“full and final release reflecting our settlement
agreement.” Doc. 12-2. The letter informed Grosshart
that if he executed the release, State Farm would
“forward payment to you in the amount of $4, 395.00. We
will also forward payment in the amount of $7, 205.00 to the
applicable lien holder. Thus, the total settlement is $11,
600.00[.]” Id. Grosshart executed the release
on December 16, 2009. Doc. 12-3.
18, 2016, Grosshart filed this case in the Circuit Court of
Cass County, Missouri. Grosshart seeks relief for himself and
on behalf of a proposed class of similarly situated
individuals. The Petition names as defendants State Farm,
Massey, John Does 1-25, and Jane Does 1-25. Plaintiff
Grosshart and all proposed members of the class are citizens
of Missouri. Defendant State Farm is an Illinois Corporation
with its principal place of business in Illinois. Defendant
Massey is a Claim Representative for State Farm, and she is a
citizen of Missouri. The John/Jane Doe Defendants are also
Claim Representatives for State Farm, and are also allegedly
citizens of Missouri.
alleges that State Farm and the individual defendants engaged
in a “scheme in which they undertook to pay class
members' liens and then paid more to medical providers
than they were legally required.” Doc. 11, p. 9.
Specifically, Grosshart alleges that Defendants violated
Missouri Revised Statute § 430.225 by: (1) directly
paying his medical lien holders without first obtaining his
permission, and by (2) improperly paying those lien holders
in excess of fifty percent of his settlement
asserts claims for negligence (Count I), for breach of
fiduciary duty (Count II), and for intentional, negligent,
and fraudulent misrepresentations (Counts III-V). Counts I
and II are primarily based on Defendants' alleged failure
to obtain Grosshart's permission to pay the liens, and
for overpaying the lien holders, under § 430.225. Counts
III, IV, and V are primarily based on Defendants' alleged
misleading statements about § 430.225, and/or for
failing to advise Grosshart of the statutory requirements.
Grosshart seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and also
8, 2016, Defendants removed the case to this Court under the
Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”).
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Grosshart now moves to
remand, and argues that CAFA's “local controversy
exception” divests this Court of jurisdiction. The
local controversy exception, and its applicability to this
case, is discussed below.
creates diversity jurisdiction “over a class action if
 the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million,  any
member of the plaintiff class is a citizen of a different
state from any defendant, and  the class consists of at
least 100 persons.” Johnson v. MFA Petroleum
Co., 701 F.3d 243, 253 (8th Cir. 2012) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(d)(2), (5)). A party removing a case under CAFA
must establish these elements by a preponderance of the
evidence. See Hurst v. Nissan N. Am., Inc., 511 Fed.
App'x 584, 585 (8th Cir. 2013); Scott v. Cerner
Corp., 2015 WL 5227431, at * 1 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 8, 2015).
If the removing party carries its burden, “the burden
shifts to the party seeking remand to establish that one of
CAFA's express jurisdictional exceptions applies.”
Westerfeld v. Indep. Processing, LLC, 621 F.3d 819,
822 (8th Cir. 2010).
exception is the local controversy exception. Id. at
823; 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4). Under this exception, a
district court “shall decline to exercise jurisdiction
. . .
(A)(i) over a class action in which-
(I) greater than two-thirds of the members of all proposed
plaintiff classes in the aggregate are citizens of the State
in which ...