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James G. Davis, Construction Corp. v. Erie Ins. Exchange

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 20, 2013

JAMES G. DAVIS, CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE, Defendant

Decided May 17, 2013.

Page 608

For James G. Davis Construction Corporation, Plaintiff: Clifton Merritt Mount, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jackson and Campbell PC, Washington, DC.

For Erie Insurance Exchange, Defendant: Edward Joseph Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Office of Edward J Brown LLC, Ellicott City, MD.

OPINION

Page 609

PETER J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

James G. Davis Construction Corporation (" Davis" ) is a Virginia corporation with its principal place of business in Maryland. Erie Insurance Exchange (" Erie" ) is a commercial insurance provider formed as an unincorporated association in Pennsylvania. [1] Davis has sued Erie for breach of contract arising out of Erie's refusal to pay the costs of Davis's legal defense in a tort lawsuit filed against it in Maryland state court. Davis also requests a declaratory judgment that it is entitled to attorneys' fees and indemnification. Erie has filed a Motion to Dismiss (Paper No. 5) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is GRANTED.

I.

A party may move to dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) or Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A Rule 12(b)(1) motion places the district court in the role of a fact finder for the limited purpose of assessing disputes over allegations critical to establishing subject matter jurisdiction. When the movant contests the truth of the complaint's jurisdictional allegations, the district court may " go beyond the allegations of the complaint and in an evidentiary hearing determine if there are facts to support the jurisdictional allegations." Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). The district court may review pleadings, affidavits, depositions, and even hear testimony, all without converting the 12(b)(1) motion into one for summary judgment. Id. The burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction is upon the plaintiff. Id.

In contrast, when a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the plaintiff has procedural advantages not present in the Rule 12(b)(1) context: " [T]he facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction." Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). The court's inquiry is restricted to the pleadings, and courts must attach " a presumption of truthfulness" to the plaintiff's jurisdictional allegations. Id. at 193.

In its apparent haste to submit its Motion, Erie failed to specify its procedural line of attack, stating only that it moves pursuant to Rule " 12(b)." The Court's review of the pleadings, however, suggests that Erie intended to submit its Motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) since Erie disputes Davis's key jurisdictional allegation that Erie is a " corporation," and offers evidence pertaining to the nature and location of its business. For its part, Davis has submitted information it learned about Erie from the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation. The Court, therefore, analyzes Erie's Motion as made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).

II.

Federal district courts have original jurisdiction in all civil actions where the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the adverse parties are " diverse," i.e., citizens of different States. 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332. Diversity of citizenship must be " complete," meaning that " no plaintiff may be a citizen of the same ...


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