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Dammann v. Progressive Direct Insurance Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 11, 2017

Andrea L. Dammann; May K. Yang, individually and on behalf of classes of similarly situated indivduals Plaintiffs - Appellants
Progressive Direct Insurance Company Defendant-Appellee

          Submitted: March 8, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis

          Before BENTON, BEAM, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

          MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

         Plaintiffs Andrea Dammann and May Yang filed a class action in Minnesota state court alleging that Progressive Direct Insurance Company (Progressive) sold insurance policies with benefits below the statutory minimum required by Minnesota law. After Progressive removed the case to federal court, plaintiffs moved to remand. Plaintiffs argue that the requirements for removal under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) were not met. The district court[1] denied plaintiffs' motion to remand and subsequently granted Progressive's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Plaintiffs appeal, and we affirm.


         Andrea Dammann and May Yang are both Minnesota residents who purchased automobile insurance policies from Progressive. Payments of certain deductibles were required by the policies in the event of covered losses: $100 for medical expense payments and $200 for economic loss payments. Both policies provided only the minimum coverage required by Minnesota law: $20, 000 for medical expenses, and $20, 000 for economic losses.

         Dammann and Yang both suffered covered losses and incurred more than $20, 100 in medical expenses as a result. Because their policies included the $100 deductible for medical expense payments and a maximum coverage of $20, 000, each plaintiff received a payment of just $19, 900 from Progressive. Both filed suit in Minnesota state court alleging that Progressive's practice of selling policies with deductibles which reduced benefit payments below $20, 000 for medical expenses and for economic losses violated Minnesota law. Plaintiffs sought to represent a class of all similarly situated individuals.

         Progressive timely removed the case to federal court. Plaintiffs then moved to remand to state court on the ground that CAFA's jurisdictional requirements were not met because the amount in controversy did not exceed $5, 000, 000. After the district court denied the motion to remand, Progressive moved to dismiss the case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The district court granted the motion to dismiss, and plaintiffs appeal.


         Plaintiffs first argue that the district court should have remanded the case to state court because it lacked jurisdiction. We review de novo a district court decision that subject matter jurisdiction exists under CAFA. See Bell v. Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 956 (8th Cir. 2009). If the district court's jurisdictional decision rests on findings of fact, we review those factual determinations for clear error. See Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Universal Crop Prot. All., LLC, 620 F.3d 926, 930 (8th Cir. 2010).

         Under CAFA, federal courts have original jurisdiction over class actions "where, among other things, 1) there is minimal diversity; 2) the proposed class contains at least 100 members; and 3) the amount in controversy is at least $5 million in the aggregate." Raskas v. Johnson & Johnson, 719 F.3d 884, 886 (8th Cir. 2013). The party seeking removal under CAFA bears the burden of establishing these jurisdictional requirements by a preponderance of the evidence. See id. at 887.

         The plaintiffs argue that the district court erred when it determined that the amount in controversy here exceeds $5, 000, 000. Specifically, the plaintiffs argue that because "the plaintiff is the master of the complaint, " Bell, 557 F.3d at 956, the district court should have restricted its analysis of the amount in controversy to what could be recovered by the class of individuals identified in the complaint-individuals who had actually made claims for covered losses and were paid less than the statutory minimum. According to Progressive, some six hundred individuals fall within this class. When the district court calculated the amount in controversy, however, it relied on premiums collected on all Progressive policies which included the challenged deductibles, regardless of whether the policyholders had made claims which led to application of the deductibles.

         As the district court noted, the facts here are similar to those in Raskas, 719 F.3d at 886. There, a group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Missouri state court alleging that various manufacturers of medications had "conspired . . . to deceive customers into throwing away medications after their expiration dates, knowing that the medications were safe and effective beyond the expiration date." Id. The defendants sought to remove to federal court based on their sales revenue in Missouri during the class period. Id. Plaintiffs sought to remand on the ground that "these sales figures were insufficient to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement, as Plaintiffs are only seeking to recover damages for medications discarded and replaced." Id. They argued that defendants' evidence in support of the amount in controversy was overinclusive because it encompassed more than just the sales attributable to the challenged practice. Id. at 887. We rejected the plaintiffs' overinclusiveness argument, however, for ...

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