Rothrock v. Captial Logistics, LLC, Case No. 6:20-cv-03225-MDH

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS HARPOOL United States District Judge
PartiesLINDSEY ROTHROCK, individually, and as Next Friend of GRACE ROTHROCK AND JOLEE ROTHROCK Plaintiff, v. CAPTIAL LOGISTICS, LLC, and ALLIED WORLD ASSURANCE CO., Defendants.
Decision Date15 September 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 6:20-cv-03225-MDH

LINDSEY ROTHROCK, individually,
and as Next Friend of GRACE ROTHROCK AND JOLEE ROTHROCK Plaintiff,
v.
CAPTIAL LOGISTICS, LLC,
and ALLIED WORLD ASSURANCE CO., Defendants.

Case No. 6:20-cv-03225-MDH

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI SOUTHERN DIVISION

September 15, 2020


ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (Doc. 11). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is GRANTED. The case is remanded to the Circuit Court of Greene County, Missouri. The Clerk of the Court is directed to mail a certified copy of this Order to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Greene County, Missouri, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

BACKGROUND

This case arises out of the death of Scott Rothrock, who was killed in a crash involving a tractor trailer. Plaintiff seeks recovery for the wrongful death from Defendant Capital Logistics, LLC ("Capital Logistics"). Plaintiff originally sued Capital Logistics (the load broker), as well as Scott Hines (the driver) and On Track Transport (the trucking company). The claims against Hines and On Track Transport have been resolved.

This is the second attempted removal of this case. In the initial state court case, Capital Logistics did not remove the case before the 30-day time limit for it to remove had passed. Later, the Cincinnati Insurance Company ("Cincinnati Insurance") intervened pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat.

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§ 537.065. Cincinnati Insurance provides the first layer of coverage to Capital Logistics. Capital Logistics and Cincinnati Insurance jointly removed the case to federal court pursuant to complete diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446. Cincinnati Insurance contended that it was able to remove the case within 30 days from its own intervention, essentially restarting the time limit as its new status as a defendant in the case.

The Western District, the Honorable Judge Bough presiding, considered whether an intervening insurer for the only true defendant (Capital Logistics) can remove a case to federal court. Rothrock v. Capital Logistics, LLC, Case No. 6:20-cv-03113-SRB (W.D. Mo. Aug. 19, 2020). The Court ruled that an insurer who intervenes, as Cincinnati Insurance did, is not a "defendant" as that term is used in the removal statutes, and thus the removal by Cincinnati Insurance was wrongful and required remand. Id. at 10.

Here, Defendant Allied World Assurance Company ("Allied World") also intervened in the state court case pursuant Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.065. Allied World then removed this case pursuant to diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Allied World is an excess insurer of Capital Logistics. Allied World likewise argues that it is a proper party to remove as an intervening insurer, pursuant to its intervention in state court under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.065.

STANDARD

Defendants may remove to federal court "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction[.]" 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A plaintiff may challenge removal by filing a motion to remand. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing subject-matter jurisdiction. In re Bus. Men's Assurance Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), "district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or

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value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between—(1) citizens of different states[.]" "The notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant." 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). "[A] district court is required to resolve all doubts about federal jurisdiction in favor of remand." Transit Cas. Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, 119 F.3d 619, 625 (8th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). This Court must resolve jurisdictional issues prior to resolving any other pending motions. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94-95 (1998) (noting "the requirement that jurisdiction be established as a threshold matter"). Thus, Allied World's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) is secondary to the initial determination of jurisdiction.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff argues that the removal at hand mirrors exactly the previous attempted removal by Cincinnati Insurance, and this Court has already ruled that removal by an insurer who intervenes in a state court proceeding under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.065 is not a proper party to remove. Allied World does not appear to argue that it or its removal here is distinguishable at all from that of Cincinnati Insurance's removal, but rather seems to argue that the Court's previous ruling was incorrect. The Court finds that the previous ruling barring removal in this case does indeed directly apply to Allied World's removal, and thus the removal is not proper. The analysis...

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