FEDERAL JUDGE IN NORTH TEXAS DENIES REMAND MOTION & DETERMINES NO VALID CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST ADJUSTER

February 25, 2013

Last Tuesday, a Federal District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas denied a Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand in Ronald DeCluette, et al v. State Farm Lloyds and Ruben Gallegos, Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-4449-B, 2013 WL 607320. Plaintiffs Ronald and Annie DeCluette filed a claim with State Farm against their homeowner’s policy for various residential property damage resulting from an April 3, 2012 storm. Plaintiffs also sued the insurance adjuster for his alleged failure to thoroughly investigate plaintiffs’ claim. Plaintiffs’ Original Petition alleged that the insurance adjuster’s improper adjustment of the plaintiffs’ claim resulted in State Farm’s wrongful denial of a portion of their insurance claim.

 State Farm removed the lawsuit to Federal Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Specifically, State Farm alleged the insurance adjuster was improperly joined in an effort to defeat diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiffs sued the adjuster for alleged unfair and deceptive acts under 541.060 of the Texas Insurance Code.  The Court determined the plaintiffs failed to plead any specific facts to support their allegations against the insurance adjuster.  Further, the Court noted the plaintiffs did not attribute any facts to support their claim that they were specifically damaged by the insurance adjuster, nor had the plaintiffs attempted to serve the insurance adjuster with the lawsuit. Accordingly, the Court held the adjuster was improperly joined, and the plaintiffs’ claim against the adjuster was not valid.

 Editor’s Note: MDJW attorneys Ryan Geddie and Chris Martin represent the carrier in referenced case.