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Cook v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 10, 2019

JENNIE M. COOK, Plaintiff
v.
USAA CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

          ORDER ON MOTIONS TO AMEND, TO JOIN A REAL PARTY, AND TO REMAND TO STATE COURT

          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

         In this action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant USAA Casualty Insurance Company (USAA CIC) did not properly adjust her insurance claim following a fire at property she owned in Old Town, Maine. (First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 8.) The matter is before the Court on three related motions: Plaintiff seeks to amend her complaint (ECF No. 127) to join the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), as a defendant, which party she maintains is a necessary or real party (ECF No. 126), and, upon joinder of USAA, asks the Court to remand the case to state court (ECF No. 125) because the joinder of USAA would divest the Court of jurisdiction.

         Following a review of the record, and after consideration of the parties' arguments, the Court denies Plaintiff's motions.

         Factual and Procedural Background [1]

         A. The Plaintiff, the Property, and the Fire

         On November 16, 2012, USAA CIC issued Policy No. 00278416380A to Plaintiff, insuring the real property located at 188 Veazie Street, Old Town, Maine (the property). (Defendant USAA CIC's Statement of Facts ¶¶ 1, 3, ECF No. 101, hereinafter DSMF.) Plaintiff paid all premiums and met all requirements of the policy. (Proposed Second Amended Complaint ¶ 8, ECF No. 127-1.) The property was occupied by tenants from July 2012 through July 2013 and was vacant after July 2013. (DSMF ¶ 6.) At that time, Plaintiff lived in Virginia. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         In early September 2013, Plaintiff returned to Maine to make repairs to the property. (Id. ¶ 12.) On the morning of September 24, 2013, at approximately 7:00 a.m., a fire ignited and caused damage to the property. (Id. ¶¶ 16 - 18.)

         B. Legal Proceedings

         On March 25, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint in Maine Superior Court (Kennebec County) against USAA CIC, in which complaint she asserted claims for breach of contract and unfair claims settlement practices. (ECF Nos. 1-2, 1-3.) USAA CIC removed the case to federal court, citing the Court's diversity jurisdiction over the matter. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to amend her complaint, which the Court granted. (ECF Nos. 6 - 7.)

         After completion of discovery, USAA CIC moved for summary judgment. (ECF No. 100.) At oral argument on the motion, Plaintiff raised a possible jurisdictional issue based on Plaintiff's contention that a necessary party, USAA, had not been joined in the matter. Plaintiff subsequently filed the pending motions - the motion to amend the complaint, the motion to join a real party, and the motion to remand the matter to state court.[2] (ECF Nos. 125 - 127.)

         C. The Relationship between USAA and USAA CIC

         USAA is a reciprocal inter-insurance exchange formed pursuant to Texas Insurance Code § 942.002(a). (Proposed Second Amended Complaint ¶ 12.) “Reciprocal insurance means insurance resulting from the mutual exchange of insurance contracts among persons in an unincorporated association under a common name through an attorney-in-fact having authority to obligate each person both as insured and insurer.” Haney v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., 331 Fed.Appx. 223, 229 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting North Carolina law, internal quotation marks omitted). Under Texas law:

The statute provides that “subscribers . . . may exchange reciprocal or interinsurance contracts with other subscribers . . . to provide indemnity among those subscribers for a loss for which insurance coverage may be obtained under other law.” Tex. Ins. Code Ann. § 942.002(a).
A “subscriber” is defined as “an individual, partnership, or corporation who, through an attorney in fact, enters into a reciprocal or interinsurance contract.” Id. § 942.001(4). A “reciprocal or interinsurance contract” is defined as “an insurance policy or other contract that provides indemnity among a group of subscribers for certain losses, ” id. § 942.001(3), and the statute provides that such a contract may be executed by an attorney in fact appointed by the subscribers of an exchange, id. § 942.051.

True v. Robles, 571 F.3d 412, 415 (5th Cir. 2009). USAA has subscribers in all states. (Proposed Amended Complaint ΒΆ 5.) Plaintiff originally became a member of USAA when she subscribed to a USAA ...


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