Recently the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico was presented with a dispute concerning whether an insurance coverage case presented to it for adjudication should be sent back to the state court in which the plaintiff had first filed the case. The federal court trial court presented with this dispute ruled in favor of allowing the case to proceed in the plaintiff’s forum of choice. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction and sent the case back to state court.
Underlying the dispute was a hit and run accident. Allegedly a person was injured when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a pick up truck that did not stop at a stop sign. The driver of the pick up truck drove off after the accident. The injured person whose vehicle had been struck in the hit and run accident sought to recover money from the insurance company that insured his vehicle, based on uninsured motorist coverage. The insurance company refused to pay out after being presented with a police report, medical records and bills. The injured person, through counsel, filed a case against the insurance company in Bernalillo County.
The insurance company, via its counsel, removed the case the plaintiff had filed in state court to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The removal papers included an affidavit from counsel observing that, in his experience, the type of action at issue involves more than $75,000. The plaintiff responded with a motion to remand the case to state court on the basis that the amount in controversy was less than $75,000.