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Robertson-Armstrong v. Robinson Helicopter Co., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 22, 2014

JULIA ROBERTSON-ARMSTRONG
v.
ROBINSON HELICOPTER CO., INC. et al

For JULIA ROBERTSON-ARMSTRONG, Plaintiff: ANDREW J. STERN, LEAD ATTORNEY, KLINE & SPECTER, PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY, INCORPORATED, also known as ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY, Defendant: RACHEL J. GALLAGHER, ELAINE D. SOLOMON, BLANK ROME LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY, Defendant, Cross Defendant: ELAINE D. SOLOMON, LEAD ATTORNEY, RACHEL J. GALLAGHER, BLANK ROME LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For LYCOMING, also known as LYCOMING ENGINES, also known as LYCOMING ENGINES OPERATING DIVISION OF AVCO CORPORATION, also known as TEXTRON LYCOMING RECIPROCATING ENGINE DIVISION, LYCOMING ENGINES AND OPERATING DIVISION OF AVCO CORPORATION, Defendants: VERONICA W. SALTZ, SALTZ MATKOV PC, WAYNE, PA.

For AVCO CORPORATION, TEXTRON INC., Defendants, Cross Defendants: VERONICA W. SALTZ, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAURIE ALBERTS SALITA, Saltz Matkov P.C., WAYNE, PA.

For NASSAU HELICOPTERS, INC., Defendant, Cross Claimant: JEFFREY S. BATOFF, NICHOLAS PODUSLENKO, RYAN L. LEONARD, OBERMAYER, REBMANN, MAXWELL & HIPPEL, LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY, INCORPORATED, Cross Claimant, Cross Defendant: RACHEL J. GALLAGHER, ELAINE D. SOLOMON, BLANK ROME LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For LYCOMING, LYCOMING ENGINES AND OPERATING DIVISION OF AVCO CORPORATION, Cross Defendant: VERONICA W. SALTZ, SALTZ MATKOV PC, WAYNE, PA.

OPINION

Page 628

MEMORANDUM

Harvey Bartle III, J.

Plaintiff Julia Robertson-Armstrong, a citizen of Pennsylvania, originally filed this action on April 15, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County for serious personal injuries arising out of the crash of a Robinson R-22 BETA helicopter on July 20, 2011 near Dayton, New Jersey. She has sued seven defendants.[1] The action was removed to this court on May 21, 2013 on the ground of diversity of citizenship and an amount in controversy in excess of $75,000 exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2). Before the court is the motion of plaintiff to remand this case to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.

I.

Plaintiff maintains that complete diversity of citizenship is lacking and the court has no subject matter jurisdiction because Avco Corporation (" Avco" ), in her view, is also a citizen of Pennsylvania. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68, 117 S.Ct. 467, 136 L.Ed.2d 437 (1996). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c), a corporation is deemed a citizen of its state of incorporation as well as the state where it has its principal place of business. While Avco's state of incorporation is Delaware, plaintiff asserts that its principal place of business is in Pennsylvania under the " nerve center" test enunciated by the Supreme Court in Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 130 S.Ct. 1181, 175 L.Ed.2d 1029 (2010); see also Johnson v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 724 F.3d 337 (3d Cir. 2013). This court allowed discovery on this issue.

Based on discovery, Avco is a corporation whose sole shareholder is defendant Textron, Inc. Textron, Inc. has various subsidiaries and affiliates, including Avco. Avco is a holding company primarily in the business of manufacturing military vehicles, weapons, and electronic surveillance equipment for the United States

Page 629

Government as well as aircraft engines for commercial customers. It has various subsidiaries, including Textron Systems Corporation. Avco also has seven Operating Units, including Lycoming Engines Division (" Lycoming" ), which plaintiff calls Lycoming.[2] The manufacturing facility of Lycoming is located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

In November 2012, Ellen Lord replaced Fred Strader as Avco's president and CEO. In December 2012, at Lord's direction, Avco relocated its offices from Wilmington, Massachusetts to a building located at 40 Westminster Street, Providence, Rhode Island, which is owned by Textron Realty Corporation, where all of its directors and most of its top officers are located and its financial records are housed.[3] Avco is listed on the building's directory and maintains its offices on the 16th floor. At the time of the relocation Avco also filed papers with the Rhode Island Secretary of State to qualify the corporation to do business in that state.

On June 14, 2013, the annual meeting of the sole shareholder of Avco and the annual meeting of the board of directors of Avco were held at Avco's offices in Providence, Rhode Island. At that time, the sole shareholder, Textron, Inc., elected Lord, Kim Herrington, and Danny Lee to serve as the board of directors of Avco. All three are situated in Providence, Rhode Island.

The three members of the board of directors adopted a resolution at the June 14, 2013 meeting electing certain individuals as officers of Avco: Lord as the president and CEO; Herrington as the senior vice president and chief financial officer; and Lee as the senior vice ...


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