United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
issue is whether, in this No-Fault suit, Plaintiff's
request for $69, 934.38 in damages, along with the sought
after attorney's fees and penalty interest, satisfies the
amount in controversy requirement. Plaintiff contends it does
not and has filed a Motion to Remand. For the reasons below,
the Court disagrees. The Court shall deny the motion because,
since there is complete diversity between the parties and it
is more likely than not that the damages and attorney's
fees sought by Plaintiff will exceed $75, 000, the Court has
January 23, 2018, Plaintiff Michigan Head and Spine
Institute, P.C. sued Defendant Safeco Insurance Company in
Oakland County Circuit Court under Michigan's No-Fault
Act (Doc. # 1, Ex. 2). Plaintiff sought $69, 934.38 in
damages and claimed entitlement to attorney's fees under
M.C.L. § 500.3148 and penalty interest under M.C.L.
months later, on March 19, 2018, Defendant removed the case
to federal court, asserting diversity jurisdiction (Doc. #
1). In turn, Plaintiff has moved to remand the case back to
state court (Doc. # 7). Defendant has responded (Doc. # 12).
The Court shall decide the Motion to Remand on the briefs,
the issues having been adequately presented therein. LR
defendant may remove “any civil action brought in state
court of which the district courts of the United States have
original jurisdiction . . . .” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). District courts have original jurisdiction over
“all civil actions where the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest
and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different
states.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). “A defendant
seeking to remove a case to federal court has the burden of
proving that the district court possesses
jurisdiction.” Williamson v. Aetna Life Ins.
Co., 481 F.3d 369, 375 (6th Cir. 2007).
only dispute here is whether the amount in controversy
requirement has been satisfied. Because Plaintiff seeks $69,
934.38 in damages-an amount below the $75, 000.01
threshold-the question is whether its request for
attorney's fees or penalty interest, when coupled with
the damages request, satisfy the jurisdiction amount. The
Court concludes that it does.
plaintiff's requested attorney's fees may be included
in the amount in controversy determination. The general rule
is clear: attorney's fees are to be considered when they
are “provided for by contract or where a statute
mandates or expressly allows the payment of such
fees.” Id. at 376 (emphasis added). That
is the case here. Like the fee statutes at issue in
Williamson, M.C.L. § 500.3148(1) expressly
allows a plaintiff to recover attorney's fees “if
the court finds that the insurer unreasonably refused to pay
the claim or unreasonably delayed in making proper
payment.” See Williamson, 481 F.3d at 377. So,
any fees requested under § 3148(1) “are properly
considered when determining the amount in controversy.”
Haggard v. Allstate Property and Cas. Ins. Co., 2013
WL 12181716, at * 3 (E.D. Mich. 2013); see also Great
Lakes Pain v. Allstate Ins. Co., 2016 WL 9414040 (E.D.
Mich. 2016) (including fees requested under § 3148(1) in
the amount in controversy calculation); Axiobionics, LLC
v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2012 WL 12929895
(E.D. Mich. 2012) (same).
complaint, of course, claims entitlement to these
attorney's fees, alleging that Defendant's actions
were “unreasonable within the meaning of the No-Fault
Act.” Complaint, ¶ 18. The question, then, is
whether the fees sought pushes Plaintiff's suit past the
jurisdictional threshold. Because Plaintiff seeks $69, 934.38
in damages, Defendant need only establish that the fees will
“more likely than not” exceed $5, 066.62-the
amount necessary to make up the difference. See Everett
v. Verizon Wireless, Inc., 460 F.3d 818, 822 (6th Cir.
2006). It has done so. In 2011, when awarding fees under
§ 3148(1), Judge Lawson approved a $200 hourly rate for
Plaintiff's counsel, Sean F. Kelly. Detroit Med. Ctr.
v. Encompass Ins. Co., 2011 WL 3111970, at * 11 (E.D.
Mich. 2011). Even if Mr. Kelly's reasonable hourly rate
has not increased in the intervening seven years, a mere 26
hours of work at $200 per hour would cause the attorney's
fees to exceed the target amount. Under the circumstances,
the Court is satisfied that it is “more likely than
not” that the amount in controversy, when considering
the damages and attorney's fees sought, exceeds $75, 000.
See Williamson, 481 F.3d at 377. Thus, the Court
shall deny the Motion to Remand.
reasons above, the Court ORDERS that Plaintiff's Motion
to Remand is denied.