Submitted: January 16, 2019
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - Cape Girardeau
GRUENDER, WOLLMAN, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
GRUENDER, Circuit Judge
appeals the district court's orders requiring it to
deposit $21 million in disputed insurance proceeds to
maintain its federal statutory interpleader claim and
dismissing Ronald Gean and the Estate of Jean Carol Gean
("the Geans") for lack of personal jurisdiction in
its declaratory judgment claims. We affirm.
August 5, 2016, a truck operated by Rex, LLC struck a vehicle
driven by Ronald Gean, injuring him and killing his passenger
Jean Carol Gean. Rex and its driver were covered by a
business auto insurance policy issued by Acuity with a stated
liability limit of $1 million for "each accident."
December 30, 2016, Acuity filed a two-count complaint in the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
against the Geans and several other parties affected by the
accident. Count I sought to distribute the $1 million policy
proceeds among potential claimants using federal statutory
interpleader. See 28 U.S.C. § 1335. Count II
sought a declaratory judgment that the applicable policy
limit was in fact $1 million per accident. Acuity also moved
to deposit the stated policy limit of $1 million into the
registry of the court as required by § 1335(a), the
district court granted the motion, and Acuity submitted the
funds to the court's registry.
on January 4, 2017, the Geans brought suit in Illinois state
court for personal injury, wrongful death, and a declaratory
judgment that Acuity's $1 million policy limit
"stacked" for each of the twenty-one vehicles
covered by the policy, providing total coverage of $21
million. The Geans also filed a motion in federal court to
dismiss Acuity's federal action, arguing that the
district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction under the
federal interpleader statute unless Acuity deposited the
disputed $21 million, rather than the $1 million in the
court's registry. The Geans also alleged that the
district court lacked personal jurisdiction over them and
that venue was improper in the Eastern District of Missouri.
district court held the motion to dismiss in abeyance.
Agreeing with the Geans that § 1335(a) requires an
interpleader plaintiff to deposit the full disputed sum, it
"granted [Acuity] leave to post the appropriate amount
of $21 million or dismiss Count I" and warned that
"[f]ailure to post the appropriate amount or dismiss
Count I may result in the Court dismissing Count I for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction." In response, Acuity
filed an amended complaint dismissing its interpleader claim
and adding an additional claim for declaratory judgment under
Missouri state law.
district court next concluded that it lacked personal
jurisdiction over the Geans because they did not have
sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri, dismissed them
from the lawsuit, and ordered Acuity to show cause why the
lawsuit could proceed in their absence. Acuity conceded that
the Geans were necessary and indispensable parties, and the
district court dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice.
Acuity appealed and challenges the district court's
orders concerning subject-matter and personal jurisdiction.
first address whether Acuity waived appellate review of the
district court's order concerning subject-matter
jurisdiction by amending its complaint to dismiss its
interpleader claim in response to the district court's
threat to dismiss if Acuity did not deposit $21 million.
Generally, "an amended complaint supercedes an original
complaint and renders the original complaint without legal
effect." Tolen v. Ashcroft, 377 F.3d 879, 882
n.2 (8th Cir. 2004). Thus, a plaintiff who amends his
complaint and dismisses certain claims waives his right to
appeal them. Id. But we have refused to find waiver
where the court's involuntary dismissal of the original
counts "struck a vital blow to a substantial part of
plaintiff's cause of action." Williamson v.
Liverpool & London & Globe Ins. Co., 141 F. 54,
57 (8th Cir. 1905); see also Karnes v. Poplar Bluff
Transfer Co. (In re Atlas Van Lines, Inc.), 209 F.3d
1064, 1067 (8th Cir. 2000); Hayward v. Cleveland Clinic
Found., 759 F.3d 601, 617-18 (6th Cir. 2014). The Geans
nonetheless argue that Tolen controls and that
Acuity's dismissal of its interpleader claim was not
truly involuntary because the court gave Acuity a choice
other than dismissal, namely depositing $21 million.
conclude that Acuity did not waive its right to appeal the
district court's ruling concerning the deposit
requirement. In giving Acuity the option of depositing the
full $21 million or dismissing its interpleader claim, the
district court rejected Acuity's interpretation of the
requirements of § 1335. Rather than continuing to advance
an argument that the district court had rejected, Acuity
proceeded with the remainder of its case. As the Seventh
Circuit has pointed out, "It is not waiver-it is
prudence and economy-for parties not to reassert a position
that the trial judge has rejected." Bastian v.
Petren Res. Corp., 892 F.2d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 1990).
These factors support the conclusion that Acuity did not
waive its arguments concerning the deposit required under
§ 1335. As we have indicated in the removal context, a
motion to amend is involuntary where the plaintiff
"faced the Hobson's choice of amending his complaint
or risking dismissal." In re Atlas Van
Lines, Inc., 209 F.3d at 1067 (footnote omitted and
emphasis added). While Acuity could have avoided such a
choice by depositing $21 million, the requirement to deposit
such a large sum still confronted the company with "a
patently coercive predicament." Id.
sure, Acuity could have stood on its original complaint and
forced the district court to dismiss its interpleader claim.
But, as the concurring opinion acknowledges, Acuity
"would have arrived at the same place on appeal"
had it done so. Post, at 12. Given that nothing
of substance turns on the distinction, enforcing waiver under
these circumstances "merely sets a trap for unsuspecting
plaintiffs with no concomitant benefit to the opposing
party." See Davis v. TXO Prod. Corp., 929 F.2d
1515, 1518 (10th Cir. 1991) (footnote omitted); 6 Charles
Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice &
Procedure § 1476 (3d ed. 2019) ("It therefore
is not logical to deny a party the right to appeal simply
because the party decides to abide by the court's order
and amend the pleading rather than allowing an adverse
judgment to be entered and taking an immediate
appeal."). Thus, we may review the district court's
order concerning subject-matter jurisdiction over
Acuity's interpleader claim.
review the existence of subject-matter jurisdiction de
novo. Iowa League of Cities v. EPA, 711 F.3d
844, 861 (8th Cir. 2013). Federal statutory interpleader
allows a party holding money or property to join the various
parties asserting mutually exclusive claims, thereby avoiding
the threat of multiple liability or multiple lawsuits.
Gaines v. Sunray Oil Co., 539 F.2d 1136, 1141 (8th
Cir. 1976). A district court has jurisdiction over a
statutory interpleader claim if there are adverse claimants
to money or property worth at least $500 and diverse
citizenship between at least two ...