Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Vest v. RSC Lexington, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

November 10, 2016

Jessica L. Vest, Plaintiff.
v.
RSC Lexington, LLC d/b/a Oakleaf Village of Lexington and Royal Senior Care Management LLC, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND (ECF NO. 23)

          CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter was removed from state court based on the assertion of diversity jurisdiction. ECF Nos. 1, 9 (notices of removal filed September 2, 2016). It is now before the court on Plaintiff's motion to remand. ECF No. 23 (motion to remand filed Tuesday, October 4, 2016). Plaintiff argues Defendants have failed to meet their burden of establishing the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. More specifically, Plaintiff argues the information provided in response to the court's inquiry (and Plaintiff's motion to remand) fails to establish the citizenship of Defendant RSC Lexington, LLC d/b/a Oakleaf Village of Lexington (“RSC Lexington”) and, consequently, fails to support a finding of complete diversity. For reasons explained below, the motion to remand is granted.

         STANDARD

         The standard of review applicable to motions to remand depends on whether the defect at issue is merely procedural or raises concerns as to the existence of subject matter jurisdiction.

         Procedural Deficiencies.

Deficiencies in the jurisdictional allegations in a notice of removal are procedural errors and, consequently, may be challenged only by motion filed within thirty days of removal. See Doe v. Blair, 819 F.3d 64 (4th Cir. 2016) (reversing sua sponte remand as based on procedural error where defendant failed to allege its principal place of business and court remanded based on this deficiency without allowing defendant an opportunity to cure); Ellenburg v. Spartan Motors Chassis, Inc., 519 F.3d 192, 197-98 (4th Cir. 2008) (reversing sua sponte remand as based on procedural error where defendant relied on generic allegation that the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000 and court remanded based on this deficiency without allowing defendant an opportunity to cure). Further, jurisdictional allegations in a notice of removal need not “meet a higher pleading standard than the one imposed on a plaintiff in drafting an initial complaint.” Ellenburg, 519 F.3d at 200 (holding generic allegation as to amount in controversy, made on information and belief, did not render notice of removal procedurally defective).[1]

         Existence of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.

In contrast, concerns as to the absence of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time, by the court or parties. As explained in Ellenburg:

In the case where remand is based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the remand order may be entered at any time, for jurisdiction goes to the very power of the court to act. . . . In addition, because the lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be noticed by the district court sua sponte or by any party, . . . the court may enter a remand order sua sponte.

Id. at 196 (noting remand based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction falls within the scope of 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) and is not reviewable).

         Thus, while a court may not remand a matter based on a perceived insufficiency in the factual allegations in a notice of removal, at least not sua sponte, it may be prompted by the nature of those allegations to “inquire sua sponte whether it has subject matter jurisdiction and impose on the defendants the burden of demonstrating jurisdiction.” Id. at 200 (suggesting district court could make such inquiry or invite a motion to remand); see also Zoroastrian Ctr. v. Rustam Guiv Found'n of N.Y., 822 F.3d 739, 748 (4th Cir. 2016) (noting removing party “bears the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, to show the parties' citizenship to be diverse”). In resolving any concerns as to the existence of jurisdiction (or properly raised procedural defects) the court should consider that “[r]emoval jurisdiction is not a favored construction; [the courts] construe it strictly in light of the federalism concerns inherent in that form of federal jurisdiction.” In re Blackwater Security Consulting, LLC, 460 F.3d 576, 583 (4th Cir. 2006) (also noting “the party seeking removal bears the burden of demonstrating that removal jurisdiction is proper.”); Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chemicals Co., Inc. 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (noting same standards and concluding “[i]f federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is necessary.”).

         Citizenship for Diversity Purposes.

For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, the citizenship of an artificial entity other than a corporation is coextensive with the citizenship of all of its members or partners. Americold Realty Trust v. Conagra Foods, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 1012, 1016-17 (2016) (holding real estate investment trust's citizenship, like that of joint stock companies, partnerships, and other unincorporated entities, was coextensive with the citizenship of all of its members)[2]; Carden v. Arkoma Associates, 494 U.S. 185 (1990) (citizenship of limited partnership was coextensive with all of its general and limited partners); Zoroastrian Ctr., 822 F.3d at 749 (noting that, for “unincorporated entities, the Supreme Court [in Americold] adhered to the ‘oft-repeated rule that diversity jurisdiction in a suit by or against the entity depends on the citizenship of all its members'”); Central W.Va. Energy Co., Inc. v. Mountain State Carbon, LLC, 636 F.3d 101, 103 (4th Cir. 2011) (“For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, the citizenship of a limited liability company . . . is determined by the citizenship of all of its members.”).

         BACKGROUND

         The state court complaint alleges Plaintiff is a citizen of the state of South Carolina. It also alleges Defendants, both limited liability companies (“LLCs”), are comprised of members who are citizens of Florida or a state other than South Carolina.[3] Defendants removed, relying on these allegations and similarly generic assertions that both Defendants were either citizens of Florida or states other than South Carolina.[4]

         In its notice of removal, Defendant Royal Senior Care Management, LLC (“RSCM”) asserted:

[RSCM] is a limited liability company organized and established under the laws of the State of Florida, whose members and managers are citizens of Florida. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant RSC Lexington, LLC also is a Florida limited liability company whose members and managers are citizens of Florida or a State other than South Carolina. (Compl. ¶ 2.)

         ECF No. 1 at 3, 4 (emphasis added, footnote omitted). Similarly, Defendant RSC Lexington asserted in its notice of removal that it is “a limited liability company comprised of members who are citizens of the State of Florida” and “[u]pon information and belief, Defendant Royal Senior Care Management, LLC is a limited liability company comprised of members who are citizens of a state other than South Carolina.” ECF No. 9 at 2. Thus, each Defendant asserted its own members were citizens solely of Florida and its co-Defendant was either a citizen of Florida or a state other than South Carolina.

         Consistent with its normal practices, the court directed the parties invoking federal jurisdiction, here Defendants, to provide additional details as to the factual basis for their citizenship allegations. ECF No. 4 (“Order to Supplement”).[5] Specifically, the court directed Defendants to “file supplemental jurisdictional statements listing all members of each LLC Defendant and providing information necessary to determine each member's citizenship (including, as appropriate, the identity of upstream members and facts necessary to determine those members' citizenship).” Id.

         RSCM Citizenship. RSCM responded with information that tracked the citizenship of its members back to two individuals. ECF No. 6. Both of these individuals are identified, on personal knowledge of a declarant, Edward Matera, as citizens of Florida. Id. Thus, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.