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