Remand Granted In This Case

The United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division, Judge Boyle, issued an Order remanding a case in March of 2018.  The case is styled, Allied Stone, Inc. v. Acadia Insurance Company, Union Standard Insurance Group, LLC, and James Amato.

Acadia insured property owned by Allied.  In 2016, Allied claims it suffered hail and wind damage and made a claim to Acadia.  Acadia hired Union to adjust the claim.  Acadia sent out it’s employee Amato.

Allied Stone alleges in relevant part that “Mr. Amato did not prepare any estimates
or scopes of damages to the Property or failed to provide those to the insured.  Because of Mr. Amato’s failure to estimate or scope damages, Plaintiff was forced to prepare its own estimate of damages and point them out to Amato”; “Mr. Amato refused to retain appropriate consultants to evaluate the claim.  Specifically, Mr. Amato retained consultants from a preferred vendor and was unnecessarily hostile to the insured in claim communications and investigation methods”; “Mr. Amato was the only point of contact on Acadia’s behalf yet he continually delayed the claims process and refused to provide answers to the insured and its representative”; and “Mr. Amato represented to the Plaintiff that certain damages were not covered under the Policy when in fact they were.”  Allied Stone ultimately alleges that Mr. Amato’s wrongful conduct caused Acadia to wrongfully underpay its claims.
Allied filed suit in State District Court.  Acadia removed the case to this Court alleging that even though the defendants are not diverse to Acadia, that Amato’s joinder was for the purpose of defeating diversity and thus, improper.  As a result, this Court has to decide whether the joinder of Amato in the lawsuit was fraudulent.
A fraudulent joinder claim is subject to analysis under Rule 12(b)(6).  In order to survive this analysis, Allied must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.
The Court looked to whether Allied sufficiently pled its Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.060(a)(2) claim against Amato.
In order to support its Section 541.060(a)(2)(A) claim, Allied Stone pleads that “Mr. Amato did not prepare any estimates or scopes of damages to the Property or
failed to provide those to the insured.  Because of Mr. Amato’s failure to estimate or scope damages, Plaintiff was forced to prepare its own estimate of damages and point them out to Amato”; “Mr. Amato refused to retain appropriate consultants to evaluate the claim.  Specifically, Mr. Amato retained consultants from a preferred vendor and was unnecessarily hostile to the insured in claim communications and investigation methods”; “Mr. Amato was the only point of contact on Acadia’s behalf yet he continually delayed the claims process and refused to provide answers to the insured and its representative”; and “Mr. Amato represented to the Plaintiff that certain damages were not covered under the Policy when in fact they were.”
The Court found that Allied could prevail in its Section 541.060(a)(2)(A) claim against Amato in state court and therefore that Allied properly joined Amato to this action.
Because Amato is a proper party, removal was improper.  The case is Ordered to be remanded back to state court.