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Lavelle v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 22, 2017

EVNA T. LAVELLE & LAVENIA LAVELLE, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          REGGIE B. WALTON United States District Judge

         Evna T. LaVelle and Lavenia LaVelle, the plaintiffs in this putative class action, filed suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) against the defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”), alleging that “State Farm breached its insurance contract with its insureds in the District of Columbia by failing to pay them for the diminished value [ ] of their vehicles after they were repaired to industry standards and committed unfair trade practices.” Motion for Remand (“Pls.' Mot.”) at 1. State Farm then removed the case to this Court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) (2012). See Notice of Removal at 1. Currently before the Court is the plaintiffs' Motion for Remand, which requests that this case be returned to the Superior Court. See Pl.'s Mot. at 1. Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions, [1] the Court concludes that it must deny the plaintiffs' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         “On August 9, 2015, [the plaintiffs'] vehicle was struck by an uninsured driver at the corner of Half Street SE and M Street SE in the District of Columbia.” Compl. ¶ 7. The plaintiffs' vehicle, a 2014 Audi A6, sustained damages that required over $17, 000 to repair. Id. According to the plaintiffs, “[a]s a result of the damage suffered to the vehicle in the accident, the vehicle was worth less after it was repaired than it was before the accident.” Id. ¶ 8. State Farm, the plaintiffs' insurer, see id. ¶ 1, covered the vehicle's repair costs pursuant to the plaintiffs' Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage, see id. ¶¶ 2, 9, but did not cover “the diminution of value damages [the plaintiffs] suffered, ” id. ¶ 9.

         On April 22, 2016, the plaintiffs filed their Class Action Complaint in the Superior Court as the proposed class representatives of the following putative class:

All [State Farm] insureds with District of Columbia policies issued in the District of Columbia, where the insured's vehicle damages were covered under Underinsured Motorist Coverage, and
1. the repair estimates on the vehicle (including any supplements) totaled at least $1, 000; and
2. the vehicle was no more than six years old (model year plus five years) and had less than 90, 000 miles on it at the time of the accident; and
3. the vehicle suffered structural (frame) damage and/or deformed sheet metal and/or required body or paint work.
Excluded from the Class are (a) claims involving leased vehicles or total losses, and (b) the assigned Judge, the Judge's staff and family.

Id. ¶ 22. The plaintiffs allege that State Farm failed to cover the diminished value of the putative class members' vehicles pursuant to their policies, id. ¶ 6, and assert three causes of action (“Answer”); (3) the defendant's Response in Opposition to Motion for Remand (“Def.'s Opp'n”); and (4) the against State Farm: breach of contract, unlawful and deceptive trade practices in violation of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (the “Consumer Protection Act”), and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, id. ¶¶ 35, 43, 49-51. The plaintiffs request the following relief:

a. Actual damages in the form of payment of the difference between the insured vehicles' pre[-]loss fair market values and their projected fair market values as repaired vehicles immediately after the accident in amounts to be determined at trial;
b. Treble damages or $1500 per violation of the [Consumer Protection Act] for each District of Columbia ...

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