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American Security Insurance Co. v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 12, 2018

AMERICAN SECURITY INSURANCE CO., RALPH P. DARINZO Plaintiffs,
v.
ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.

          RULING AND ON MOTION FOR REMAND

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         American Security Insurance Company (“American Security” or “Plaintiff”) and Ralph P. Darinzo (“Plaintiff”), a homeowner in Stamford, Connecticut, filed in Connecticut Superior Court this action for damages allegedly arising from a product designed and marketed by Electrolux Home Products (“Electrolux” or “Defendant”). See Notice of Removal (“Notice”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 1. Electrolux Home Products moves to remand this case to Connecticut Superior Court, stating that the case was removed in error and there is no diversity of citizenship. ECF. No. 11.

         For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

          I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

          American Security Insurance Company alleges that it insured Ralph P. Darinzo, a homeowner in Stamford Connecticut. Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, ECF No. 5. Mr. Darinzo allegedly purchased and used as intended a Frigidaire dryer designed and marketed by Electrolux Home Products. Id. ¶¶ 6, 11. On March 30, 2017, however, a fire started allegedly because of a faulty heating element in Mr. Darinzo's dryer and caused extensive damage to Mr. Darinzo's home. Id. ¶¶ 12-13. Under the terms of its insurance policy with Mr. Darinzo, American Security allegedly paid $277, 727.08 in remediation, repairs, and renovations, id. ¶ 16, and “is legally subrogated to the rights and remedies of Ralph P. Darinzo to the extent of its payments” Id. ¶ 17. Mr. Darinzo additionally seeks recovery for damages not covered by his American Security insurance policy. Id. ¶ 18.

         Both plaintiffs filed the initial complaint in Connecticut Superior Court, alleging “products liability, strict liability, breach of warranty and negligence, and seek[ing] unspecified damages for property loss . . . .” Notice ¶ 2, ECF No. 1. The amount in controversy allegedly “exceeds Seventy Five ($75, 000) Thousand Dollars.” Id. at ¶ 4.

         On February 8, 2018, Electrolux removed the case to federal court invoking this Court's federal diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Def.'s Notice of Removal at 1, ECF No. 1. Electrolux stated that Plaintiffs “are American Security Insurance Company, which has a principal place of business in Miami, Florida, and Ralph P. Darinzo who resides in the State of Connecticut. The defendant is Electrolux Home Products, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, which has a principal place of business in Charlotte, North Carolina.” Id. ¶ 1. It therefore claimed complete diversity between the parties. Id. ¶ 4. It also claimed that the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000. Id.

         On February 23, 2018, Electrolux moved to remand the case back to Connecticut state court. Def. Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 11. It stated that “[t]he case was removed in error, as there is no complete diversity of citizenship based upon the fact that the Plaintiff American Security Insurance Company and the Defendant Electrolux Home Products, Inc. share the same state of incorporation.” Id. at 1.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         District courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant . . . to the district court of the United States for the district . . . embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         Defendant has the burden of demonstrating that removal of a case to federal court is proper. California Pub. Employees' Ret. Sys. v. WorldCom, Inc., 368 F.3d 86, 100 (2d Cir. 2004); Mehlenbacher v. Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc., 216 F.3d 291, 2196 (2d Cir. 2000). The Court must “resolve any doubts against removability, ” out of “respect for the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts and the rights of states.” In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (“MTBE”) Prod. Liab. Litig., 488 F.3d 112, 124 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Electrolux moves to remand this case back to Connecticut state court. It states that it had removed the case to this court in error - “there is no complete diversity of citizenship based upon the fact that the American Security Insurance Company and the Defendant Electrolux Home Products, Inc. share the same state of incorporation” - and that remand is therefore appropriate. Def. Mot at 1. Electrolux claims that Plaintiffs consent to this motion. Id.

         It is well-settled that the federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Parties may invoke that jurisdiction and remove a case from state court, but only in situations where the federal court could have exercised jurisdiction over the original action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Removal is “not a kind of jurisdiction - analogous to federal question jurisdiction and diversity of citizenship jurisdiction” - but instead it is “a means of bringing cases within federal courts' original ...


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