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KLEIN v. MARRIOTT INTERN.

January 20, 1999

JEFFREY D. KLEIN, M.D., BARBI BLAIRE KLEIN, JEFFREY D. KLEIN, M.D. AND BARBI BLAIRE KLEIN AS PARENTS AND NATURAL GUARDIANS OF ALEXANDER BENNETT KLEIN AND IAN DANIEL KLEIN, INFANTS UNDER THE AGE OF FOURTEEN (14) YEARS, BARBARA BLUMBERG, MURREY TARGOWNIK, DAVID WHITAKER AND MARY LOU WHITAKER, FRANK BROOKFIELD, ELEANOR BROOKFIELD AND MICHELLE BROOKFIELD, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC., MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, INC. AND MARRIOTT'S CASTLE HARBOUR RESORT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, Senior District Judge.

OPINION AND ORDER

In these diversity actions, plaintiffs seek damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of drinking contaminated water while staying at a hotel in Bermuda. Presently before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss the respective Complaints pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In the alternative, defendants move to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens. For the reasons discussed below, defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Defendant Marriott International Services, Ltd. ("Marriott Services"),*fn2 is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Bermuda, with its principal place of business in Bermuda.*fn3

Marriott Services manages, operates and does business as Marriott's Castle Harbour Resort, a resort hotel in Bermuda.*fn4 Defendant Marriott's Castle Harbour Resort (the "Castle Harbour" or the "Hotel") is not a separate or independent legal entity.

Bermuda Properties Limited ("Bermuda Properties"), a Bermuda corporation not named as a defendant herein, owns the Hotel buildings and land upon which the Hotel is situated.*fn5

Defendant Marriott International, Inc. ("Marriott International"), is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware. Marriott Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marriott International. See Conklin Aff. ¶ 6.

Plaintiffs Jeffrey D. Klein, M.D., Barbi Blaire Klein, Alexander Bennett Klein, Ian Daniel Klein,*fn6 Barbara Blumberg, Murrey Targownik, Frank Brookfield, Eleanor Brookfield and Michelle Brookfield are residents and citizens of the State of New York, and were such at all times relevant to their Complaints.

Plaintiffs David Whitaker and Mary Lou Whitaker are residents and citizens of the State of New Jersey, and were such at all times relevant to their Complaint.

All plaintiffs were guests of the Hotel for different periods of time between February 14, 1998 and February 23, 1998. Plaintiffs claim that during their stay at the Hotel, they ingested contaminated water and became ill as a result. All Complaints allege that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because there is a diversity of citizenship between plaintiffs and defendants and the amounts in controversy exceed $75,000.00 exclusive of interest and costs.

Defendants now move to dismiss these actions for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that the amounts in controversy do not exceed $75,000, or, in the alternative, pursuant to the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(3), which provides original jurisdiction over civil actions where the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, and are between "citizens of different States and in which citizens or subjects of a foreign state are additional parties." The diversity statute must be strictly construed. See Matimak Trading Co. v. Khalily, 118 F.3d 76, 87 (2d Cir. 1997), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 118 S.Ct. 883, 139 L.Ed.2d 871 (1998). Further, when plaintiffs sue more than one defendant in a diversity action, the plaintiffs must meet the requirements of the diversity statute for each defendant or face dismissal. See Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806). Therefore, if a putative U.S. citizen joined as a defendant with foreign defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(3) is proven to be "stateless," complete diversity is destroyed and the Court must either dismiss the case in its entirety, or dismiss only the nondiverse party if he is dispensable and his dismissal would preserve the court's diversity jurisdiction. See Newman-Green, Inc. v. Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 109 S.Ct. 2218, 104 L.Ed.2d 893 (1989). The same action would be required if the U.S. citizen met the diversity requirement, but the foreign defendants proved not to qualify as "citizens or subjects of a foreign state" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(3).*fn7


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