No party = No removal

Plaintiff Jongh sued “State Farm Lloyds” and Johnson, a local insurance adjuster, relating to the handling of her property insurance claim for storm damage.  Jongh v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 13-20174 (Feb. 20, 2014, unpublished).  State Farm answered and removed, arguing that (1) Johnson was improperly joined to destroy diversity; (2) Jongh had improperly named Lloyds, a separate entity; and (3) State Farm and Jongh were diverse.  The trial court ruled for the defendants after a 1-day bench trial.   The Fifth Circuit agreed with Plaintiff — who appears to have raised subject matter jurisdiction for the first time on appeal — that “State Farm never became a party in this action. Jongh did not  name State Farm as a defendant in her original petition; although it asserted in its answer and notice of removal that Jongh incorrectly named Lloyds as a defendant, State Farm did not move to intervene or otherwise request that the district court substitute it as the proper party in interest.”  The Court noted that Plaintiff, the “master of her complaint,” consistently asserted that her claim was against Lloyds and not State Farm.  The judgment was vacated and the case remanded.

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