Thompson v. Mutual Ben. Health & Accident Ass'n, Civil Action No. 323.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
Writing for the CourtV. Craven Shuttleworth and Ralph W. Gearhart, both of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for defendant
Citation83 F. Supp. 656
PartiesTHOMPSON v. MUTUAL BEN. HEALTH & ACCIDENT ASS'N OF OMAHA, NEB.
Decision Date15 April 1949
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 323.

83 F. Supp. 656

THOMPSON
v.
MUTUAL BEN.
HEALTH & ACCIDENT ASS'N OF OMAHA, NEB.

Civil Action No. 323.

United States District Court N. D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division.

April 15, 1949.


83 F. Supp. 657

Edward J. Dahms, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for plaintiff.

V. Craven Shuttleworth and Ralph W. Gearhart, both of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for defendant.

GRAVEN, District Judge.

On matter of remand to the District Court of Iowa, in and for Linn County, involving the question of jurisdictional amount.

The plaintiff is a citizen of the State of Iowa residing in Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. The defendant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Nebraska. It appears that on or about April 2, 1948, the defendant issued an accident insurance policy to the plaintiff providing that the plaintiff was entitled to a monthly disability payment in the sum of $75 for disability caused by accidental means. The policy shows on its face that the premium was paid in advance

83 F. Supp. 658
to August 1, 1948. Although the principal sum stated in the policy was $2250, it was further provided therein that monthly disability payments were payable for a period up to sixty months. On February 2, 1949, the plaintiff commenced an action against the defendant in the District Court of Iowa, in and for Linn County. In his complaint (termed petition under state court practice) the plaintiff alleged the issuance of the policy by the defendant and the delivery of the policy to the plaintiff's employer at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The plaintiff further alleged that on June 2, 1948, he sustained injuries by accidental means and that as a result of such injuries he was continuously and totally disabled for a period of five months and continuously partially disabled thereafter and since. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant had paid him the monthly disability payments provided for in the policy for the first two months but "maliciously, wilfully and wantonly failed and refused to pay plaintiff the benefits due plaintiff under and by virtue of said contract for such disability suffered since and after the initial two months for which benefits were paid plaintiff." In a separate paragraph the plaintiff alleged that the defendant had maliciously, wilfully, wantonly and surreptitiously and without the consent of the plaintiff secured possession of the policy from the plaintiff's employer. In his original prayer for relief, the plaintiff prayed judgment for actual damages of $1000 and punitive and exemplary damages of $4000. The defendant by proper procedure removed the action to this Court. Thereafter, in response to a motion by the defendant, the plaintiff alleged that following the commencement of this action the defendant left the policy in question at the office of plaintiff's attorney. Thereafter, on its own motion, this Court set down for hearing the question of whether this Court had jurisdiction. Shortly prior to the hearing on that question and before the defendant answered, the plaintiff amended the prayer of his complaint to ask judgment for $3500 actual damages and $3000 exemplary damages

The question involved is whether the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $3000 exclusive of interest and costs. Exemplary damages in a complaint may be included in computing the amount necessary for federal court jurisdiction. Young v. Main, 8 Cir., 1934, 72 F.2d 640. However, if under the applicable state law it would be legally impossible to recover actual and exemplary damages in the amount required for federal court jurisdiction, a claim in a complaint for the required amount will not confer jurisdiction. 1 Cyclopedia of Federal Procedure, 2d Ed., 348. In the present case the highest monthly payment to which the plaintiff could be entitled is $70. The disability of the plaintiff commenced on June 2, 1948, and up to the present time the disability has continued for a period of approximately ten months. The disability payments have been paid for two of these months so that at the present time the maximum the plaintiff could recover would be for eight months at $70 per month or a total of $560. The case would in the ordinary course be tried within the next two months. Under Rule 15(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A., the plaintiff could be permitted to file a supplemental complaint asking recovery for the monthly disability payments which have become due since the commencement of the action. See, also, 46 C.J.S., Insurance, § 1402. If the plaintiff were permitted so to do, the maximum amount of his recovery for monthly disability payments up to the time of trial could not exceed the sum of $700.

To reach the jurisdictional amount of $3000 so far as disability payments are concerned would necessitate the inclusion of future unaccrued installments. This involves the question of future potential disability payments as affecting jurisdictional amount for purposes of federal court jurisdiction. The greater weight of authority is to the effect that in determining jurisdictional amount future disability payments shall not be included. See annotation to Commercial Casualty Ins. Co. v. Fowles, 1946, 154 F.2d 884, 165 A.L.R. 1068. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is in accord with the weight of authority. Colorado Life Ins. Co. v. Steele, 8th Cir., 1938, 95 F.2d 535.

83 F. Supp. 659

In the present case the plaintiff, following removal by the defendant, amended the prayer of his complaint increasing the amount sought to be recovered as actual damages from $1000 to $3500. There are quite a number of cases where a party has sought to amend following removal so as to reduce his claim below the jurisdictional amount. It has uniformly been held that federal court jurisdiction cannot be defeated by so doing. 2...

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7 practice notes
  • Amos v. Prom, Civ. No. 571.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 30, 1953
    ...in excess of $3,000. 115 F. Supp. 131 In the case of Thompson v. Mutual Benefit, Health and Accident Ass'n of Omaha, Nebraska, D.C.1949, 83 F.Supp. 656, where both compensatory and exemplary damages were claimed, this Court held that under the applicable Iowa law it would be legally impossi......
  • White v. Benkowski
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • December 22, 1967
    ...Mart (1954), 48 Del. 526, 9 Terry 526, 107 A.2d 892; Thompson v. Mutual Ben. Health & Acc. Ass'n of Omaha, Neb. (D.C.Iowa 1949), 83 F.Supp. 656; Cain v. Tuten (1950), 82 Ga.App. 102, 60 S.E.2d 485; Mabery v. Western Casualty & Surety Co. (1952), 173 Kan. 586, 250 P.2d 824; Bland v. Smith (1......
  • In re Howell Enterprises, Inc., Bankruptcy No. HE 88-58M
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eighth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Eastern District of Arkansas
    • February 24, 1989
    ...Brand Meats, Inc., 562 F.2d at 10 n. 3; Louisiana Farmers Protective Union, Inc. v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. of America, 83 F.Supp. at 656. A default judgment would have an extremely harsh effect on First National, exposing it to $1,900,000 in damages without a full opportunity to d......
  • Dublinske v. Pacific Fidelity Life Ins. Co., No. 2--56842
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 25, 1975
    ...is not entitled to punitive or exemplary damages. We agree. See Thompson v. Mutual Benefit Health & Accident Ass'n of Omaha, 83 F.Supp. 656 (N.D.Iowa); Engel v. Vernon, 215 N.W.2d 506 (Iowa 1974); Amsden v. Grinnell Mut. Reinsurance Co., 203 N.W.2d 252 (Iowa 1972); Kuiken v. Garrett, 243 Io......
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7 cases
  • Amos v. Prom, Civ. No. 571.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • September 30, 1953
    ...in excess of $3,000. 115 F. Supp. 131 In the case of Thompson v. Mutual Benefit, Health and Accident Ass'n of Omaha, Nebraska, D.C.1949, 83 F.Supp. 656, where both compensatory and exemplary damages were claimed, this Court held that under the applicable Iowa law it would be legally impossi......
  • White v. Benkowski
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • December 22, 1967
    ...Mart (1954), 48 Del. 526, 9 Terry 526, 107 A.2d 892; Thompson v. Mutual Ben. Health & Acc. Ass'n of Omaha, Neb. (D.C.Iowa 1949), 83 F.Supp. 656; Cain v. Tuten (1950), 82 Ga.App. 102, 60 S.E.2d 485; Mabery v. Western Casualty & Surety Co. (1952), 173 Kan. 586, 250 P.2d 824; Bland v. Smith (1......
  • In re Howell Enterprises, Inc., Bankruptcy No. HE 88-58M
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Eighth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Eastern District of Arkansas
    • February 24, 1989
    ...Brand Meats, Inc., 562 F.2d at 10 n. 3; Louisiana Farmers Protective Union, Inc. v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. of America, 83 F.Supp. at 656. A default judgment would have an extremely harsh effect on First National, exposing it to $1,900,000 in damages without a full opportunity to d......
  • Dublinske v. Pacific Fidelity Life Ins. Co., No. 2--56842
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 25, 1975
    ...is not entitled to punitive or exemplary damages. We agree. See Thompson v. Mutual Benefit Health & Accident Ass'n of Omaha, 83 F.Supp. 656 (N.D.Iowa); Engel v. Vernon, 215 N.W.2d 506 (Iowa 1974); Amsden v. Grinnell Mut. Reinsurance Co., 203 N.W.2d 252 (Iowa 1972); Kuiken v. Garrett, 243 Io......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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