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Alpine Glass, Inc. v. Country Mut. Ins. Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 10, 2015

Alpine Glass, Inc., Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Country Mutual Insurance Company; MSI Preferred Insurance Company; Mutual Service Casualty Insurance Company; Modern Service Insurance Company; Country Preferred Insurance Company; Country Casualty Insurance Company, Defendants - Appellees

Submitted May 13, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For Alpine Glass, Inc., Plaintiff - Appellant: Rachael Julia Abrahamson, Charles J. Lloyd, Livgard & Lloyd, Minneapolis, MN.

For Country Mutual Insurance Company, MSI Preferred Insurance Company, Mutual Service Casualty Insurance Company, Modern Service Insurance Company, Country Preferred Insurance Company, Country Casualty Insurance Company, Defendants - Appellees: Mark R. Bradford, Susan E. Gustad, Carrie L. Hund, Kerri J. Nelson, Daniel R. Olson, Jeanne H. Unger, Bassford & Remele, Minneapolis, MN.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, MURPHY and MELLOY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

MELLOY, Circuit Judge.

Alpine Glass, Inc., appeals from an order confirming an arbitration award for one of 482 claims it asserted against several insurance companies. Because unresolved claims remain, because Alpine Glass did not obtain certification for an interlocutory appeal, and because the order below is not a qualifying order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b), we lack jurisdiction to entertain this appeal.

I.

As explained in a prior appeal in this matter, Alpine Glass repairs automotive glass in a highly regulated business in Minnesota. See Alpine Glass, Inc. v. Country Mut. Ins. Co., 686 F.3d 874, 876 (8th Cir. 2012). Pursuant to Minnesota law, Alpine Glass receives from insured vehicle owners the right to seek payment from insurance companies for repairs performed. This case involves disputes between Alpine Glass and several insurers regarding the amounts paid for 482 separate claims. Minnesota law mandates arbitration of these disputes. See Minn. Stat. § 65B.525, subd. 1.

Alpine Glass filed suit in state court seeking a declaratory judgment consolidating the 482 claims for one arbitration. Country Mutual Insurance Company removed the case to federal court asserting diversity jurisdiction and a total combined amount in controversy for all claims in excess of the jurisdictional threshold of $75,000. Alpine Glass then filed an amended complaint naming as defendants Country Mutual subsidiaries who had issued several of the underlying policies.

Alpine Glass moved for summary judgment on the issue of consolidation. The district court examined the claims and determined many of the 482 claims were barred by a two-year statute of limitations included in some of the insurance policies. The court determined 248 claims either were not governed by the two-year statute of limitations or, if governed, were timely. The court consolidated these claims for one arbitration and ordered arbitration. The court determined the remaining 234 claims were time-barred.

Alpine Glass appealed the consolidation order to our court, and we dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. We held the consolidation order was not an appealable final judgment. Alpine Glass, Inc., 686 F.3d at 877. We also held we could not reach the consolidation order pursuant to the collateral order doctrine. Id. at 877-79. In our opinion, we noted a discussion that took place at oral argument:

Alpine stresses that, if the district court's order stands, then Alpine will be forced into piecemeal arbitration of the claims that were not consolidated, thereby rendering the consolidation order unreviewable following final judgment. However, the parties at oral argument were unable to articulate a reason why Alpine could not pursue a single claim to final judgment, which would then allow ...

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