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Walter E. Campbell Co. v. Hartford Finance Services Group

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

June 12, 2014

WALTER E. CAMPBELL CO., INC., Plaintiff,
v.
HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants

For Walter E. Campbell Co., Inc., Plaintiff: Paul Anton Zevnik, Steven A. Luxton, LEAD ATTORNEYS, MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKUS LLP, Washington, DC.

For Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc, Defendant: Edward B. Parks, II, James Pio Ruggeri, LEAD ATTORNEYS, SHIPMAN & GOODWIN, LLP, Washington, DC.

For General Insurance Company of America, Defendant: Lori Allison Rubin, LEAD ATTORNEY, FOLEY & LARDNER, LLP, Washington, DC.

For Continental Insurance Company, National Indemnity Company, Defendants: Brandon David Almond, LEAD ATTORNEY, TROUTMAN SANDERS LLP, Washington, DC.

For United States Fire Insurance Company, Defendant: Jacob C. Cohn, William P. Shelley, LEAD ATTORNEYS, GORDON & REES, LLP, Philadelphia, PA.

For St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company, Defendant: Harry Lee, LEAD ATTORNEY, STEPTOE & JOHNSON LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 54

MEMORANDUM OPINION

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Walter E. Campbell Company (" WECCO" ) originally brought this action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, seeking a declaratory judgment to resolve an insurance dispute between WECCO and eight insurance company defendants, as well as former defendant Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Corporation (" PCIGC" ). Walter E. Campbell Co. v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., Inc., 959 F.Supp.2d 166, 168 (D.D.C. 2013); see also Walter E. Campbell Co. v. Gen. Ins., No. 2013 CA 109 B (D.C. S.Ct. Dec. 26, 2013) (dismissing defendant PCIGC for lack of personal jurisdiction) [Dkt. # 1-2] (" S.Ct. Order" ). Both WECCO and PCIGC are Maryland corporations with Maryland as their principal place of business. Walter E. Campbell Co., 959 F.Supp.2d at 168. None of the other defendants is incorporated in Maryland. Compl. ¶ ¶ 5-13 [Dkt. # 1-1].

Defendants first removed this action to this court on February 11, 2013, arguing that WECCO had fraudulently joined PCIGC, and that therefore, there was complete diversity among the parties for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Walter E. Campbell Co., 959 F.Supp.2d at 168. The Court disagreed, finding that defendants had not proven that PCIGC was fraudulently joined, and remanded the case. Id. at 168. The Superior Court then held that it lacked personal jurisdiction over PCIGC and dismissed PCIGC from the case. S.Ct. Order at 10.

The remaining defendants removed the case to this court again on December 30,

Page 55

2013. Notice of Removal at 1 [Dkt. # 1]. WECCO has again moved to remand the case back to the Superior Court, invoking the " well-established 'voluntary-involuntary' rule," Shepherd v. Am. Broad. Cos., Inc., No. 88-0954 (RCL), 1988 WL 110602, at *1 (D.D.C. Oct. 11, 1988), which holds that federal diversity jurisdiction cannot be created by the dismissal of a defendant when that dismissal is against the will of the plaintiff. Mot. to Remand at 1 [Dkt. # 3]; see also Whitcomb v. Smithson, 175 U.S. 635, 638, 20 S.Ct. 248, 44 L.Ed. 303 (1900) (holding that a " ruling on the merits . . . adverse to plaintiff, and without his assent . . . did not operate to make the cause then removable" ). Defendants counter that the voluntary-involuntary rule does not apply in this case because PCIGC was fraudulently joined at the outset. Defs.' Mem. in Opp. to Pl.'s Mot. to Remand at 8 [Dkt. # 16] (" Defs.' Opp." ); see also Insinga v. LaBella, 845 F.2d 249, 254 (11th Cir. 1988) (" Fraudulent joinder is a well established exception to the voluntary-involuntary rule." ). The Court finds that the Superior Court's dismissal of ...


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