United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge.
Marie Heckemeyer moves to remand this action to the Circuit
Court of Boone County, Missouri for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. [Doc. 12.] For the following reasons, the
motion to remand is granted.
October 2, 2015, Plaintiff Marie Heckemeyer filed a Petition
in the Circuit Court of Boone County, asserting a tort claim
of negligence against one defendant, Shayne Healea.
Heckemeyer's Petition alleges that on October 25, 2014,
Healea negligently drove his vehicle into a restaurant's
window and wall. At the time of the collision, Heckemeyer was
seated at a table below the window struck by Healea's
vehicle, and she suffered injuries as a result.
filing her suit, Heckemeyer learned that Healea's
liability insurance coverage was not enough to cover her
alleged damages. Heckemeyer then filed a claim for
underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits with her
own insurance company, Allied Property and Casualty Insurance
Company. On May 27, 2016, Allied denied coverage of her UIM
9, 2016, Allied filed a Declaratory Judgment action in the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri. The action seeks a declaration that Heckemeyer does
not qualify for underinsured motorist coverage through her
Allied Insurance Policy. Heckemeyer was served with the
Declaratory Judgment action on June 22, 2016.
29, 2016, Heckemeyer amended her Boone County Petition to
join Allied as a defendant and to add her claims against
Allied for breach of contract and vexatious refusal to pay.
Allied was served with the Amended Petition on June 12, 2016.
August 11, 2016, Defendants Healea and Allied removed this
state court action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Allied is an Iowa corporation
with its principal place of business in Iowa, making it a
citizen of Iowa. Healea is a citizen of Missouri. At the time
Heckemeyer filed her original suit in state court, she was
also a citizen of Missouri. Some time after Heckemeyer filed
her suit against Healea, she moved to Colorado. As a result,
when she amended her Petition on June 29, 2016 to add Allied
as a defendant, she was a citizen of Colorado.
after removing to this Court, Allied moved to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. [Doc. 5.] On September 6, 2016,
Heckemeyer moved to remand for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and moved to stay Allied's motion to
dismiss. [Docs. 12, 14.] On September 8, 2016, the Court
heard argument on Heckemeyer's pending motion to stay.
The Court granted the motion and stayed Allied's motion
to dismiss until after it had ruled on the motion to remand.
[Docs. 14, 18.] Heckemeyer's motion to remand is now
support of remand, Heckemeyer argues Healea's Missouri
citizenship bars removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Allied
responds with three independent arguments for why
Heckemeyer's claims against Healea should not preclude
removal: (1) Healea must be dismissed as a
fraudulently joined party; (2) Allied, itself, must be
dismissed as a fraudulently joined party; and (3) the claims
against Healea and Allied were fraudulently misjoined.
Therefore, if the Court determines that Healea and Allied
were not fraudulently joined or fraudulently misjoined,
removal is barred by 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2), and the
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
removing an action to federal court, the defendant bears the
burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the
court has subject matter jurisdiction over the case. In
re Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 620
(8th Cir. 2010); Hatridge v. Aetna Cas. &
Sur. Co., 415 F.2d 809, 814 (8th Cir. 1969).
“Removal statutes are strictly construed, and any
doubts about the propriety of removal are resolved in favor
of state court jurisdiction and remand.”
Baumgartner v. Ford Motor Credit Co., 2007 WL
2026135, at *1 (W.D. Mo. July 9, 2007) (citing In re
Business Men's Assurance Co. of America, 992 F.2d
181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993)).
opposition to Heckemeyer's motion to remand, Allied
argues fraudulent joinder, fraudulent misjoinder, and
complete diversity at the time of filing.