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DEAJESS MEDICAL IMAGING PD v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY

July 22, 2004.

DEAJESS MEDICAL IMAGING PD A/A/O JENNIFER ANDINO and the other injured person listed in the attached rider and MOSHE D. FULD, PC., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Defendant Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") has moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint of Deajess Medical Imaging, P.C. ("Deajess" or "Plaintiff"), as assignee of Jennifer Andino and the other injured persons listed in a rider attached to the complaint and Moshe D. Fuld, P.C.,*fn1 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1332, on the grounds that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, Allstate's motion is denied.

Prior Proceedings and Background

  Deajess filed the verified complaint (the "Complaint") in this action on May 29, 2003. According to the Complaint, Deajess is a "citizen of the State of New York." (Compl. at ¶ 2.) Allstate is alleged to be a foreign corporation, licensed to do business in the State of New York, with its state of incorporation and primary place of business in the State of Illinois. (See id. at ¶ 3.) Allstate is alleged to be in the business of issuing polices of insurance to owners of motor vehicles. (See id. at ¶ 5.) According to the Complaint, Deajess seeks to recover on sixty-four no-fault automobile insurance claims related to injuries allegedly sustained in a number of separate automobile accidents which occurred between March and September of 2002 and which arose out of the operation or use of vehicles purportedly insured by Allstate. (See Compl. at ¶¶ 6-7; Compl. Rider at 1-2.) Deajess allegedly rendered medical services to individuals involved in these accidents, accepted an assignment of benefits from each of the individuals as patient-assignors, and billed Allstate for payment of medical treatment. (See Compl. at ¶¶ 6, 9-11.) The values of the claims asserted range from $878.67 to $3,544.84. (See Compl. Rider at 1-2.)

  Allstate filed its answer to the Complaint on August 29, 2003, discovery proceeded, and the instant motion was filed on April 6, 2004. After briefing and an appearance by the parties, the motion was deemed fully submitted on April 28, 2004.

  Discussion

  Allstate argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because Deajess, by combining sixty-four separate and distinct claims in one action, has improperly or collusively aggregated these claims in an effort to circumvent the federal courts' jurisdictional threshold of $75,000, in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Allstate also argues that Deajess is not the real party in interest and that each of the individual assignors is the real party in interest for the purposes of determining diversity jurisdiction.*fn2

  I. Applicable Legal Standards

  A. The Rule 12(b)(1) Standard

  The diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, provides that the federal district courts shall have original jurisdiction with respect to "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 party seeking to challenge the existence of such jurisdiction may do so under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

  Once subject matter jurisdiction is challenged, the burden of establishing jurisdiction rests with the party asserting that it exists. See Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 446 (1942). The party asserting subject matter jurisdiction must prove that the court has such jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See APWU v. Potter, 343 F.3d 619, 623 (2d Cir. 2003); Lunney v. United States, 319 F.3d 550, 554 (2d Cir. 2003); Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000).

  On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court must accept the material factual allegations contained in the complaint. See Atlantic Mut. Ins. Co. v. Balfour Maclaine Int'l Ltd., 968 F.2d 196, 198 (2d Cir. 1992). Nonetheless, the court may resolve disputed jurisdictional factual issues by reference to evidence outside the pleadings. See Flores Southern Peru Copper Corp., 343 F.3d 140, 161 n. 30 (2d Cir. 2003); Luckett v. Bure, 290 F.3d 493, 496-97 (2d Cir. 2002). The court may decide the matter on the basis of affidavits or other evidence, see Filatech S.A. v. France Telecom S.A., 157 F.3d 922, 932 (2d Cir. 1998), but "argumentative inferences favorable to the party asserting jurisdiction should not be drawn." Atlantic Mut. Ins., 968 F.2d at 198. In other words, "jurisdiction must be shown affirmatively, and that showing is not made by drawing from the pleadings inferences favorable to the party asserting it." Shipping Fin. Servs. Corp v. Drakos, 140 F.3d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1998).

  B. The Aggregation of Claims

  Pursuant to Rule 18, Fed.R. Civ. P., an individual plaintiff "may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal, equitable, or maritime, as the party has against an opposing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a). Provided that such joinder is proper, the value of each individual claim may be aggregated for the purpose of satisfying the amount-in-controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Wolde-Meskel v. Vocational Instruction Project Cmty. Servs., 166 F.3d 59, 62 (2d Cir. ...


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