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MCRAE v. ARABIAN AMOCO

November 21, 1968

Ruth Virginia McRAE and Mike McRae, Plaintiffs,
v.
ARABIAN AMERICAN OIL COMPANY, etc., Defendant


Levet, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEVET

LEVET, District Judge.

This opinion relates to a motion by the defendant for reargument of a memorandum decision and order in this matter dated September 30, 1968. *fn1" This motion asks for an order requiring plaintiffs to submit to this court an allocation of their alleged damages. Reference to the aforesaid memorandum will show the relevant background.

 When this case came on to be tried before me in September, 1968, it appeared that the action was originally commenced in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, and that it had been removed to this court upon petition by the defendant. The petition for removal was filed on October 10, 1962.

 The complaint is by Ruth Virginia McRae and Mike McRae as plaintiffs. Ruth is the mother of Mike.

 The first cause of action appears to be a combined cause of action by Ruth and Mike with respect to certain claims against the defendant concerning an alleged guarantee of proper accommodations, etc., in Saudi Arabia where one Carl Purvines, former husband of Ruth, was to serve the defendant as a dentist.

 Paragraph 12 of the first cause of action is as follows:

 
"12. By reason of the foregoing, plaintiffs have sustained damages in the sum of $100,000, resulting in part from the suffering and humiliation caused them as a result of the aforesaid breach by defendant of the said agreement."

 The second cause of action is by the same plaintiffs and relates to alleged ejectment and false imprisonment, etc. The allegation with respect to damages is joint, paragraph 22 being as follows:

 
"22. By reason of the aforesaid, the plaintiffs have been damaged in the sum of $500,000."

 Ordinarily, it is clear that the two plaintiffs in this action could not aggregate their claims in order to obtain a federal court jurisdictional sum required under Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(a). Each plaintiff may have a separate cause of action or claim; and it is also evident that there was no joint claim. Hence, each claim must be sufficient to bring it within the monetary jurisdictional requirements. See Thomson v. Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 62 S. Ct. 673, 86 L. Ed. 951 (1942); Farmers' Loan and Trust Co. v. Waterman, 106 U.S. 265, 1 S. Ct. 131, 27 L. Ed. 115 (1882); Arnold v. Troccoli, 344 F.2d 842 (2nd Cir. 1965); Century Insurance Company v. Mooney, 241 F.2d 910 (10th Cir. 1957).

 Obviously, the combination of the claims of the plaintiff Ruth and the plaintiff Mike would be improper and inadequate since no one can determine what the claim of Ruth is or what the claim of Mike is in either the first or second causes of action.

 The only prima facie basis for removal of this action to this court was a third cause of action in which plaintiff Ruth Virginia McRae claimed to have been slandered by employees of the corporate defendant. Any cursory examination of this claim would have revealed to defendant that no cause of action was in fact alleged since a corporation is not liable for slander by its employee when outside the scope of his employment.

 The third cause of action, which was discontinued with prejudice on December 6, 1963, sounded in slander. Although an allegation is made that the words in question were spoken in the court of, and within the scope of, the employment of the corporate employees who are said to have made these statements, it is exceedingly doubtful from the statements set forth in the complaint that any of said statements were made in the course of the employment of the persons mentioned. See Bohanan v. Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Co., 289 F. Supp. 490 (W.D.Oklahoma 1968); Dyer v. Burns, 257 F. Supp. 268 (W.D.Oklahoma 1966). Whatever the law may be in Saudi Arabia, and there is no assertion whatsoever as to that law in the complaint, there seems to be no doubt that in the State of New York corporations are liable for the torts of their employees only when committed within the scope of their ...


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