United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Linda Cohen's
Motion to Remand. (Doc. 22.) Defendant Pruco Life Insurance
Company (“Pruco”) opposes remand. (Doc. 27.) Also
pending is Pruco's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 14.)
Plaintiff Linda Cohen filed a memorandum in opposition (Doc.
20), and Pruco replied (Doc. 26).
alleges the following in her complaint (Docs. 5, 6):
Plaintiff purchased a life insurance policy from Pruco with a
face value of $350, 000. In the latter half of 2018, the
policy was due for renewal. As part of the renewal process,
Plaintiff provided required health information. Plaintiff
tendered a check for the premium amount due and Pruco cashed
it. Pruco subsequently notified Plaintiff by mail that they
were denying coverage and terminating the policy, and that
she would be issued a refund. The letter stated that the
denial was based on blood test results and an abnormal
asserts that the blood test in question was based on a sample
drawn the morning after she had undergone a significant
surgery, a time when irregular results are to be expected.
Further, she asserts that the letter attributed the results
to a physician who had not begun treating Plaintiff until two
months after the test. Finally, Plaintiff asserts that her
health records included a completely normal follow-up
echocardiogram only a month after the abnormal result.
December 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit in Missouri state
court, arguing that Pruco's denial of coverage and
termination of the policy were the result of a negligent
misuse of her health records and a breach of its fiduciary
duty. (Doc. 5.) She sought compensatory damages “in an
amount in excess of $25, 000” based on
“humiliation . . . anxiety and sleeplessness, ”
as well as “additional costs and expense for medical
testing, ” and alleged that she has been unable to
secure a replacement policy with similar terms. (Doc. 6 at
¶¶ 15-16.) She also sought attorney fees and costs.
(Id. at ¶ 18.) On January 24, 2019, Pruco
removed the case to this Court, arguing that it had diversity
jurisdiction over the suit under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc.
seeks an order remanding the case to state court, arguing
that “the jurisdictional amount in controversy does not
exceed $20, 000.00.” (Doc. 22 at ¶ 6.) Pruco
responds that the appropriate measure of damages is the face
value of the policy: $350, 000. (Doc. 27.)
defendant may remove a state law claim to federal court only
if the action originally could have been filed there.”
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); In re Prempro Prods. Liab.
Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 619 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing
Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir.
2005)). Federal district courts have original jurisdiction in
civil actions between citizens of different states if the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest
and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The party invoking
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.
Prempro, 591 F.3d at 619 (citing Altimore v.
Mount Mercy Coll., 420 F.3d 763, 768 (8th Cir. 2005).
The case will be remanded only “if it appears to a
legal certainty that the value of the claim is actually less
than the required amount.” Perma Glass Corp. v.
Sasak Corp., 718 F.Supp. 742, 743 (E.D. Mo. 1989)
(citation and quotations omitted). “All doubts about
federal jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of remand to
state court.” Prempro, 591 F.3d at 620 (citing
Wilkinson v. Shackelford, 478 F.3d 957, 963 (8th
cites In re Minnesota Mut. Life Ins. Co. Sales Practices
Litig., 346 F.3d 830, 835 (8th Cir. 2003), for the
proposition that, “[i]n actions based on alleged
wrongful denial of life insurance coverage, the amount in
controversy is the face value of the policy.” (Doc. 27
at 4.) Because the policy at issue in this case has a face
value greater than $75, 000, Pruco argues that the
amount-in-controversy requirement is obviously satisfied.
(Id. at 5.)
Court believes Pruco's reliance on Minnesota
Mutual is misplaced. In that case, two plaintiffs
alleged that they been induced to buy life insurance based on
a salesman's promise that the premiums would vanish-that
is, the plaintiffs were told that after a small number of
annual payments, they were entitled to the face value of the
policy without making additional out-of-pocket payments for
the remainder of their lives. Minn. Mut., 346 F.3d
at 832-33. That representation was inaccurate, and when the
plaintiffs refused to pay additional premiums, their policies
were terminated. Id. at 833. They sued to force
Minnesota Mutual to honor its salesman's representations
and reinstate their polices. Id. at 835.
Mutual removed the case to federal court and the plaintiffs
sought to remand. Id. Their motion was denied, the
case was combined with similar suits in other districts, and,
ultimately, Minnesota Mutual was granted summary judgment.
Id. at 833. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that
the federal district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction
because less than $75, 000 was in controversy. Id.
at 834. The Eighth Circuit rejected this argument, holding
that, when a plaintiff seeks equitable ...