United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
DAVID L. HISKEY, RANDY A. FALLANG, and OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiffs,
INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE WEST, Defendant.
Morris United States District Court Judge.
David L. Hiskey and Randy A. Fallang, on behalf of themselves
and a proposed class of others similarly situated, filed this
action in Montana's Eighth Judicial District Court,
Cascade County on October 27, 2017. (Doc. 4.) Defendant
Insurance Company of the West ("ICW") removed this
action to federal court on February 16, 2018, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1441, based on diversity of citizenship
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1 at 3.)
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand on February 27, 2018.
(Doc. 8.) Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on February
23, 2018. (Doc. 5.)
Court held a hearing on the motions on April 26, 2018. (Doc.
20.) The Court ordered the parties to notify the Court of any
supplemental authority on the issue of whether the
anti-aggregation rule applies where a class of plaintiffs
proceeding on a state law class claim seek declaratory
judgment regarding a defendant's joint and several
liability. The parties filed supplements on May 4, 2018.
(Docs. 21; 22.)
are construction workers who worked for Wadsworth Builders
Company, Inc. ("Wadsworth") and its various
subsidies. (Doc. 4 at 1.) Wadsworth employed Plaintiffs on
public works construction projects. Id. Some of the
Wadsworth projects were subject to the prevailing wage
provisions of the Little Davis Bacon Act of Montana, Mont.
Code Ann. §§ 18-2-101, et seq.
deducted $0.20 per hour from the Plaintiffs' wages on
certain public works projects. (Doc. 17 at 2.) The Montana
Department of Labor ("MDOL") issued two
determinations finding that Wadsworth's deductions
violated Montana law. Id. MDOL advised Wadsworth
that Wadsworth could avoid further liability and penalties by
refunding the deduction to all of its employees. Id.
Wadsworth and MDOL entered into a settlement agreement with
MDOL in which Wadsworth agreed to refund each employee the
deduction. Id. Wadsworth provided the refund checks
to MDOL, and MDOL, in turn, disbursed the checks to
Wadsworth's employees. Id. at 3.
on behalf of themselves and a putative class, filed suit
against Wadsworth in the Montana Eighth Judicial District
Court, Cascade County, on March 8, 2010. Id.
Plaintiffs seek statutory damages and penalties under Montana
law to which they claim they are entitled due to
Wadsworth's deductions, and Wadsworth's alleged
misclassification of employees resulting in underpayment.
Insurance Company of the West ("ICW") provided
performance and payment surety bonds for some of the
Wadsworth construction projects at issue in the underlying
case. (Doc. 17 at 2.) Plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment
that these surety bonds render ICW jointly and severally
liable for Plaintiffs' damages in the underlying state
court claim. (Doc. 4 at 3-4.) Plaintiffs further seek to hold
ICW responsible for breach of contract. Id. at 6.
filed a Notice of Removal on February 16, 2018. (Doc. 1.)
Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand on February 27, 2018,
asserting that ICW had not met the amount in controversy
required for this Court to exercise diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 9 at 2.) Plaintiffs
contend that the claims of the named Plaintiffs alone,
without the members of the putative class, must meet the $75,
000 threshold prescribed by statute. Id. at 11.
has also filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. (Doc. 5.) ICW argues
that Plaintiffs' failure to identify specific projects
and surety bonds render ICW unable to respond to the
allegations contained in the complaint. (Doc. 6 at 8.) ICW
further argues that Plaintiffs' failure to allege that
they filed a notice with ICW within 90 days of the completion
of each project subject to an ICW surety bond, as required by
Montana law, represents a failure to assert all the elements
of a viable claim for relief. Id. at 10. Finally,
ICW claims that Plaintiffs lack standing. Id. at 11.
defendant may remove an action from state court if the action
could have originally been brought in federal court. 28
U.S.C. § 1441, A court must remand any case removed from
a state court "if at any time before final judgment it
appears that the district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), This Court must
first determine subject matter jurisdiction. Federal courts
are always "under an independent obligation to examine
their own jurisdiction." Hernandez v. Campbell,204 ...