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Jones v. Skyview Management LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 11, 2017

ANGELA JONES
v.
SKYVIEW MANAGEMENT, LLC; VRAJ BRIG PA, LLC and WYNDHAM HOTEL GROUP

          MEMORANDUM

          O'NEILL, J.

         Currently pending in this matter is a motion by plaintiff Angela Jones to remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Upon consideration of the parties' briefs, I will deny the motion.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On April 21, 2017, plaintiff Angela Jones filed a praecipe to issue writ of summons and demanded a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County against defendants Skyview Management, LLC, Vraj Brig PA, LLC and Wyndham Hotel Group. Am. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 4, ¶ 1. Plaintiffs praecipe and a writ of summons were served on defendant Wyndham Hotel Group on April 27, 2017. Id. ¶ 2. Defendants filed a notice of removal, under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3), on May 23, 2017. Id. ¶ 3. As removal was premised on diversity jurisdiction, I ordered counsel for defendants to file an amended notice of removal to more specifically aver the residences and citizenship of the members of Skyview Management, LLC and Vrag Brig, LLC. Order, ECF No. 2. Defendants filed that amended notice of removal on June 13, 2017. Am. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 4.

         According to the amended notice, plaintiff is a citizen of the State of Illinois. Id. ¶ 9. Defendant Skyview Management, LLC is a limited liability company and sole member entity with its registered address and principal place of business located at 735 Highway 35 North, Asbury Park, New Jersey. At all relevant times, the sole member of Skyview Management, LLC was Ravi Sheth, located at 143 Valesi Drive, Morganville, New Jersey. Id. ¶ 5. Defendant Vraj Brig PA, LLC is a limited liability company and sole member entity with its registered address and principal place of business located at 2015 Penrose Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At all relevant times, the sole member of Vraj Brig PA, LLC was Ravi Sheth, located at 143 Valesi Drive, Morganville, New Jersey. Id. ¶ 6. Defendant Wyndham Hotel Group is a corporation incorporated in the State of Delaware with its principal place of business located at 22 Sylvan Way, Parsippany, New Jersey. Id. ¶ 7.

         Defendants allege, on information and belief, that the incident giving rise to plaintiffs claims occurred on premises operated by defendant Skyview Management. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiffs praecipe to issue writ of summons seeks damages in excess of $50, 000, Id. ¶ 11 & Ex. A, and defendants surmise that the amount in controversy in this matter is in excess of $75, 000. Id. ¶ 13. To date, a formal complaint has not been filed or served by plaintiff, preventing defendants from ascertaining the specific injuries and damages allegedly sustained in the slip and fall incident that occurred on December 26, 2015. Id. ¶ 12.

         On June 21, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion to remand this matter to state court based on the "forum defendant" rule.[1] PL's Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 5. Defendant responded on June 26, 2017. Defs.' Resp. Opp'n Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 7.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove a civil action filed in a state court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A defendant seeking removal of an action must file a petition for removal with the district court within thirty days of plaintiff s service of the complaint upon defendant. See 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). "The defendants bear the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction and compliance with all pertinent procedural requirements." Winnick v. Pratt. No. 03-1612, 2003 WL 21204467, at *1 (E.D.Pa. May 20, 2003), citing Bover v. Snap-On Tools Corp.. 913 F.2d 108, 111 (3d Cir.1990); see also Palmer v. Univ. of Med, and Dentistry of N.J.. 605 F.Supp.2d 624, 627 (D.N.J. 2009) ("A party opposing remand must show that removal was proper.").

         Once an action is removed, a plaintiff may challenge removal by moving to remand the case back to state court. Cook v. Soft Sheen Carson. Inc.. No. 08-1542, 2008 WL 4606305, at *1 (D.N.J. Oct. 15, 2008), citing 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Remand to the state court is appropriate for "(1) lack of district court subject matter jurisdiction or (2) a defect in the removal procedure." PAS v. Travelers Ins. Co., 7 F.3d 349, 352 (3d Cir. 1993). Remand is mandatory and can occur at any time during the litigation if the court determines that it lacks federal subject matter jurisdiction. Kimmel v. DeGasperi. No. 00-143, 2000 WL 420639, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 7, 2000), citing 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). A motion to remand the case on the basis of any defect in the removal procedure, however, must be submitted within thirty days after filing of the notice of removal under section 1446(a). 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); N. Penn Water Auth. v. Bae Svs. Aerospace Elec. Inc.. No. 04-5030, 2005 WL 1279091, at *5 (E.D. Pa. May 25, 2005). Upon a motion to remand, "[i]t is always the removing party's burden to prove the propriety of removal, and any doubts about the existence of federal jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of remand." Lumbermans Mut. Cas. Co. v. Fishman. No. 99-929, 1999 WL 744016, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sep. 22, 1999), citing Batoff v. State Farm Ins. Co., 977 F.2d 848, 851 (3d Cir. 1992); see also Bover. 913 F.2d at 111 (holding that the removal statutes "are to be strictly construed against removal and all doubts should be resolved in favor of remand"), quoting Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch & Signal Div, 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987).

         DISCUSSION

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)

[D]istrict courts ... have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between-(1) citizens of different States; (2) citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a foreign state; (3) citizens of different States and in which citizens of a foreign state are additional parties; and (4) a foreign state, defined in § 1603(a) of this title, as plaintiffs and citizens of a State or of different States.

28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The United States Supreme Court has read this Rule to require complete diversity between all plaintiffs and all defendants. Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche. 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005). In other words, each plaintiff must be able to sue each defendant. Singh v. Daimler-Benz AG. 9 F.3d 303, 305 (3d Cir. 1993), citing Strawbridge v. Curtiss. 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806); see also Yellen v. Telledne Cont'l Motors. Inc.. 832 F.Supp.2d 490, 501 (E.D. Pa. ...


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