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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

BROWNING v. SPEARS et al

ATTENTION: It is possible that this information may no longer be current and therefore may be inaccurate. The index contains both open and closed cases and is not a complete list of cases in which an ACE Insurance Group company is involved. This information is provided to give interested persons an idea of the issues disputed in the indexed cases. For a full understanding of a case, one should read the rest of the court file, including the response. For the most up-to-date and complete information on a case, visit www.pacer.gov or contact the clerk of the relevant court.

Case Number: 
3:13-cv-00096 Search Pacer
ACE Group party(s): 
Opposing Party: 
Jennifer Browning
Court Type: 
Federal
US District Court: 
Middle District of Georgia
Date Filed: 
Sep 6 2013

"1. On April 22, 2013, Plaintiff Jennifer Browning (“Plaintiff”) filed a lawsuit against Defendant in the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke County, State of Georgia, under civil action SU13CV0337.

2. Plaintiff’s counsel filed a Motion for Entry of Default Judgment against Defendant on June 24, 2013. The Superior Court of Athens-Clarke County entered
a Default Judgment against Defendant, the same day.

3. Just three days later, and with no notice to Defendant, the Court conducted a damages trial on June 27, 2013, purportedly hearing evidence and argument of Plaintiff’s counsel. The Court entered a Final Judgment against Defendant for $1,500,000.00.

4. On July 30, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Garnishment Affidavit and Summons of Garnishment against Bankers, Defendant’s insurance carrier, in the Superior Court of Oconee County, State of Georgia, Civil Action File No. 2013-CV-0393-H. That same day, the Court approved Plaintiff’s Affidavit. On July 31, 2013, Plaintiff’s counsel signed a Certificate of Counsel advising the Court that he mailed notice of the garnishment to Defendant.

5. This Notice of Removal is filed with the United States District for the Middle District of Georgia, Athens Division, within thirty (30) days of service upon Bankers of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which said action is based. Copies of all process, pleadings and orders served upon Bankers in the above-referenced state court action are attached hereto as Exhibit “A,” as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a).

6. Plaintiff is a resident citizen of the State of Georgia and Bankers is a foreign corporation, organized and existing under the laws of Pennsylvania, with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania.

7. Defendant, the purported judgment debtor, is a Georgia resident. His citizenship should be disregarded for purposes of diversity analysis, as Defendant is not a named garnishee, and is otherwise a nominal – and unnecessary – party to the garnishment claim. Kemp v. Hudgins, No. 12-CV-2739-JAR, 2013 WL 2631634 at *4 (June 12, 2013, D. Ken.); Grissom v. Walker, No. 1:10-CV-144 RWS, 2011 WL 845285 at *2 (March 9, 2011, E.D. Md.) (“To the extent defendant [judgment debtor] has been named as a garnishee/defendant in this action by plaintiff …, such a designation does not preclude the court’s diversity jurisdiction in the matter. For the purposes of the garnishment proceedings against [insurer], [judgment debtor] is a nominal party at best, whose presence in the case is no impediment to the removal of this garnishment proceeding.”). Alternatively, a defendant in a garnishment proceeding is aligned as a Plaintiff for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. Porter v. Crumpton & Associates, LLC, 862 F. Supp.2d 1303 (11th Cir. 2012); Boston v. Titan Indemnity Company, 34 F.Supp.2d 419 (N.D. Miss. 1999); Moore v. Sentry Insurance Company, 399 F. Supp. 929 (S.D. Miss. 1975).

8. This court has jurisdiction of this action by virtue of the complete diversity of citizenship existing between Plaintiff and Bankers. The amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds $75,000.00.

9. The Court has original jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and removal jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441.

10. A copy of this Notice of Removal is being served upon Plaintiff by and through their counsel, and is being filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court of Oconee County, State of Georgia.
 
WHEREFORE, Bankers and Defendant pray that this Notice of Removal be filed and said action be removed to proceed in this Court and that no further proceedings be had in the Superior Court of Oconee County, State of Georgia. This 6th day of September, 2013."

The provided text is an excerpt from a document filed in this case. For a full understanding of the case, one should read the complete court file, including the response.

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