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McCaffrey v. Windsor at Windermere Limited Partnership

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 8, 2017

STEPFANIE MCCAFFREY
v.
WINDSOR AT WINDERMERE LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, et al.

          MEMORANDUM

          THOMAS N. O'NEILL, JR., J.

         Defendants Windsor at Windermere Limited Partnership (WWLP), Windsor at Windermere Investors Corporation (WWIC) and Windsor Communities (collectively, moving defendants) move to dismiss plaintiff Stepfanie McCaffrey's amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Now before me are moving defendants' motion and supporting memorandum of law (Dkt. No. 5), plaintiff's opposition and supporting memorandum of law (Dkt. No. 6) and moving defendants' reply (Dkt. No. 7). For the reasons that follow, I will grant defendants' motion.

         BACKGROUND

         I. The Parties

         Plaintiff initiated this action by filing her complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Pennsylvania on October 6, 2016. See Dkt. No. 5 at ECF p. 2-3. On November 28, 2016, plaintiff filed a praecipe to reinstate her complaint and, on December 15, 2016, she filed an amended complaint naming WWLP, WWIC and Windsor Communities as defendants along with Windsor Property Management Company.[1] Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 11-30; id. at ¶¶ 2-6; see also Dkt. No. 5-4. Moving defendants removed plaintiff's case to this Court on February 1, 2017. Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff did not seek remand. Moving defendants then filed the instant motion to dismiss on March 15, 2017. Dkt. No. 5.

         Plaintiff's amended complaint asserts claims relative to a lease she executed on February 28, 2014 - by its terms, an agreement between WWLP, as owner and landlord, and plaintiff, as resident. Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 32 and 53 (lease pages 1 and 22). The lease is for an apartment with an address of 1511 Manchester Court, Apt. #302, West Chester, PA 19380. Id. at ECF p. 32 (lease page 1). The lease provides that “[t]he leasing office address for [Windsor at Windermere Place] ¶ 1500 Windermere Road, West Chester PA, 19380” and that Windsor Property Management Company, the owner's “Agent”, “manages the Community” and “accepts service of notices, demands and service of process on behalf of the Owner.” Id. at ECF p. 32. The lease was executed on behalf of the “owner” by Amy Watkins, an “Authorized Signatory” for “Windsor Property Management Company, Its Agent.” Id. at ECF p. 53 (lease page 22). The lease also provides that “Owner and Agent and their successors and assigns may exercise rights, remedies and legal proceedings under the lease.” Id. at ECF p. 46 (lease page 15).

         Section II of the lease is titled “Terms and Conditions of Lease - Pennsylvania.”[2] Id. at ECF p. 41 (lease page 10). There is a single reference thereunder to a specific Pennsylvania law on page 11 of the lease:

You agree to waive any notice including the 10 or 30 day notice period that is contained in Section 501 of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, as amended, 68 P.S. 250.501, or any other notice period established by law. LANDLORD MAY FILE SUIT AGAINST TENANT TO ENFORCE THE TERMS OF THE LEASE WITHOUT NOTICE TO TENANT.

Id. at ECF p. 42 (lease page 11).

         Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges that, “[u]pon information and belief . . . [WWLP] . . . is a Pennsylvania Limited Partnership, with a place of business at 1500 Windemere Road, West Chester Pennsylvania, and . . . was and is landlord and the owner of the property where the incident at issue took place.” Id. at ECF p. 12, ¶ 2 (capitalization omitted). She alleges that “[u]pon information and belief, [WWIC] is a registered Pennsylvania Corporation and provides capital to Windsor at Windermere LP for its real estate ventures.” Id. at ECF p. 12-13, ¶ 3 (capitalization omitted). She also alleges that “[u]pon information and belief, Windsor Communities is a registered Massachusetts business and is the parent company of Windsor at Windermere LP.” Id. at ECF p. 13, ¶ 4 (capitalization omitted).[3]

         Moving defendants contend that plaintiff's jurisdictional allegations are incorrect and “[n]one of the Moving defendants are incorporated in Pennsylvania and none of them maintain a principal place of business in Pennsylvania.” Dkt. No. 5 at ECF p. 3. Moving defendants assert that contrary to the allegations in plaintiff's amended complaint, WWLP “is a Delaware Limited Partnership and maintains its principal place of business at 125 High Street, 27th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts . . . .” Id. at ECF p. 4, ¶ 10. They contend that WWIC “is a Delaware Corporation and maintains its principal place of business at 125 High Street, 27th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts . . . .” Id. at ECF p. 4, ¶ 11. Moving defendants also assert that Windsor Communities “is not a legal entity, ” but rather, “is a trade name registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.” Id. at ECF p. 4, ¶ 12. Defendants included these same allegations regarding their citizenship in their notice of removal and stated that “this Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, ” citing their “information and belief” that “the amount in controversy in this action, exclusive of interests and costs, exceeds $75, 000.”[4] Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 2-3 ¶¶ 2-7.

         In her response to moving defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, plaintiff contends that “all of the named Defendants not only had corporate offices in Pennsylvania, but availed themselves of this jurisdiction by way of their contacts here.” Dkt. No. 6 at ECF p. 2, ¶ 7. Plaintiff submits that defendant WWLP and defendant WWIC are both registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Dkt. No. 6-1 at ECF p. 3; see also Dkt. No. 6-2. She also asserts that defendant Windsor Property Management Company managed the apartment complex in question and ran its primary business in West Chester Pennsylvania. Dkt. No. 6-1 at ECF p. 3.

         II. The Alleged Incident and Plaintiff's Claims

         In her amended complaint, plaintiff claims that while she was a residential tenant in Unit #302 at Windsor at Windemere Place in West Chester, Pennsylvania, “other tenants started their fireplace, which caused smoke and other hazardous materials to enter Ms. McCaffrey's apartment. Dkt. No. 1 at ECF p. 12-14, ¶¶ 1, 8-10. She alleges that “[a]s a direct result of the substances that entered into [her] apartment, she suffered ...


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