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Oravic v. Target Corporation

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 8, 2017

CHERYL ORAVIC and, COLLEEN KIRBY and JOSEPH KIRBY, her husband, Plaintiffs
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, NICHOLAS DURHAM and JOSEPH SIVIK, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          James M. Munley Judge UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the court for disposition is this case alleging unlawful employment actions. For the following reasons, we will dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

         Background

         Defendant Target Corporation employed Plaintiffs Cheryl Oravic and Colleen Kirby (hereinafter “plaintiffs”) for several years. Defendant Nicholas Durham served as the store manager where plaintiffs worked, and Defendant Joseph Sivik served as the Executive Team Leader of Guest Service. (Doc. 1, Exh. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 5 - 6).

         In February 2014, Target terminated the plaintiffs' employment. (Id. ¶¶ 26 - 30). Plaintiffs subsequently instituted the instant action alleging the following causes of action: gender discrimination; age discrimination; retaliation and loss of consortium.[1] The discrimination claims are brought pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, not federal law, and the loss of consortium claim is brought pursuant to Pennsylvania common law.

         Plaintiffs served Defendant Target with the complaint on June 3, 2016. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶ 2). Evidently, the individual defendants have not yet been served. (Doc. 21, Pl.'s Status Report). Defendant Target filed a notice of removal with this court on July1, 2016 asserting this court's diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal).

         On January 6, 2017, the court ordered Defendant Target to show cause as to why the case should not be remanded for lack of jurisdiction. (Doc. 16). Defendant filed its response on January 20, 2017. (Doc. 19). Plaintiff filed a status report on service of the individual defendants on January 30, 2017, and Target filed a letter response to the status report on January 31, 2017. (Doc. 21, Doc. 22). Having considered these filings, the notice of removal and the original complaint, we find that remand is necessary.

         Legal standard

         Federal courts, being courts of limited jurisdiction, have a continuing duty to satisfy themselves of jurisdiction before addressing the merits of a case. Packard v. Provident Nat'l Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1049 (3d Cir. 1993). Moreover, federal courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte. Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co., Inc. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation omitted); Shaffer v. GTE North, Inc., 284 F.3d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 2002).

         In the removal context, a district court has the authority-indeed the obligation-to remand a case sua sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”); see Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ward Trucking Corp., 48 F.3d 742, 750 (3d Cir. 1995) (“[Section 1447(c)] allows and indeed compels a district court to address the question of jurisdiction, even if the parties do not raise the issue.”). Following Third Circuit law, we strictly construe the removal statutes against removal and resolve all doubts in favor of remand. Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch & Signal Div., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987).

         Discussion

         The law provides that a civil action initiated in state court may be removed to federal court by the defendant if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); Johnson v. SmithKlilne Beecham Corp., 724 F.3d 337, 346 (3d Cir. 2013). “Diversity of citizenship subject matter jurisdiction falls within the original jurisdiction of the district court, pursuant to § 1332(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code, and thus a state court case that implicates diversity jurisdiction may generally be removed, provided that the defendant is not a citizen of the state in which the action is brought, 28 U, .S. C. § 1441(b)(2).” Johnson, 724 F.3d at 346 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

         Diversity jurisdiction under § 1332 requires complete diversity of citizenship, that is, no plaintiff and defendant may be citizens of one state. Id. “Diversity of citizenship must have existed at the time the complaint was filed and at the time of removal and the burden is on the removing party to establish federal jurisdiction.” Id. (internal citations omitted). And as noted above, we construe the removal statute strictly, and resolve all doubts in favor of remand. Id.

         In the present case, we must determine if Defendant Target has established diversity of citizenship between the plaintiffs and ...


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