UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISMISSES IMPROPERLY JOINED CLAIMS ADJUSTER FROM LAWSUIT
Last week, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas concluded that the insured failed to state a claim against the adjuster under the Texas Insurance Code and dismissed the adjuster from the suit. In Angelina’s Mexican Restaurant v. Allied Ins. Co. of America, No. 4:20-CV-278, 2020 WL 4001864 (E.D. Texas [Sherman Division], July 15, 2020, mem. op.), the roof of Angelina’s Mexican Restaurant (“Angelina’s”) allegedly sustained wind and hail damage. Angelina’s subsequently reported the loss to its commercial insurance carrier, Allied Insurance. Mary Keefer (“Keefer”), an insurance adjuster for Allied Insurance, was assigned to investigate the loss and adjust the claims.
Angelina’s, believing that Allied Insurance was unreasonably delaying payment of benefits, brought suit against Allied Insurance and Keefer in state court alleging various contractual and extra-contractual causes of action. Allied Insurance removed the case to federal court, then Angelina’s sought remand to state court. In response to Angelina’s request for remand, Allied Insurance contended that Keefer was improperly joined and, therefore, should be dismissed from the suit, which would result in complete diversity and proper removal to federal court.
The U.S. District Court concluded that Angelina’s “failed to allege sufficient factual matter to state a claim against Keefer that is plausible on its face” and that Keefer was improperly joined to the action. The U.S. District Court reasoned that Angelina’s pleadings —that Keefer inspected Angelina’s property; ignored covered damages; performed a cursory inspection; failed to properly adjust and estimate the claim; failed to timely and properly report to Allied Insurance to address all the covered damages; made statements misrepresenting the policy terms; misrepresented material facts related to the coverage at issue; and prepared a report that failed to include all of the damages that she noted during the inspection of the property, which resulted in an undervaluation of the damages the property sustained— were “merely boilerplate legal allegations without factual matter supporting them.”
In sum, the U.S. District Court denied Angelina’s motion to remand and dismissed Keefer from the suit.