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Palmiotti v. JAF Carrier L.L.C.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 28, 2017

WINONA MAE PALMIOTTI, Plaintiff,
v.
JAF CARRIER L.L.C. d/b/a Bagir Trucking, C.H. ROBINSON COMPANY INC., C.H. ROBINSON TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, C.H. ROBINSON WORLDWIDE, INC., JOSE CARANZA a/k/a Jose Cruz, and JETRO CASH AND CARRY ENTERPRISE, LLC, Defendants.

          Jaroslawicz & Jaros Attorneys for Plaintiff, David Jaroslawicz, Esq., Norman E. Frowley, Esq.

          Dopf, P.C. Attorneys for Defendant JAF Carrier, LLC, s/h/a JAF Carrier, L.L.C. d/b/a Bagir Trucking, Martin B. Adams, Esq.

          Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP Attorneys for Defendants C.H. Robinson Company, Inc., C.H. Robinson Transportation Company Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. Lindsay J. Kalick, Esq.

          Morris Duffy Alonso & Faley Attorneys for Defendant Jetro Cash and Carry Enterprises, LLC s/h/a Jetro Cash and Carry Enterprise, LLC, Mark Healy, Esq.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Denis R. Hurley, United States District Judge

         This is an action to recover for personal injuries sustained by Plaintiff Winona Mae Palmiotti (“Plaintiff” or “Palmiotti”). Presently before the Court is a motion by the defendants challenging the existence of diversity subject matter jurisdiction and a motion by Plaintiff to amend her complaint. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion is granted to the extent that this matter is remanded to the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, and Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         As commenced in state court, the complaint named as defendants JAF Carrier, LLC, s/h/a JAF Carrier, L.L.C. d/b/a Bagir Trucking (“JAF”), C.H. Robinson Company, Inc., C.H. Robinson Transportation Company Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (collectively “Robinson Defendants”) and Jose Caranza a/k/a Jose Cruz (“Caranza”). That complaint identified the parties as follows: Plaintiff as a resident of New York; JAF as a “foreign limited liability company” organized under the laws of Virginia; and the Robinson defendants as foreign corporations organized under the laws of Minnesota (Company and Transportation) and Delaware (Worldwide). On April 27, 2015, the Robinson Defendants removed the action to this Court on the ground of diversity of citizenship.[1]

         By stipulation of the parties approved by the Court, plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 3, 2015 adding Jetro Cash and Carry Enterprise, LLC (“Jetro”) as a defendant. The amended complaint alleges that Jetro “is a domestic limited liability company, duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of New York.” (DE 25 at ¶ 11.)[2]

         Shortly after answers to the amended complaint were filed, JAF sought leave to file a motion directed to subject matter jurisdiction and seeking dismissal of this action and its remand to state court. Similar requests by Jetro and the Robinson Defendants soon followed, as well as a request by plaintiff to file a motion to amend her complaint. Leave was granted and the following motions have been filed: (1) a motion to dismiss by JAF, in which the Robinson Defendants join; (2) a motion to dismiss and remand by Jetro; and (3) a motion to amend the complaint by plaintiff. The motions by JAF and Jetro both focus on Jetro's citizenship.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         “A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it.” Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). “The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proving facts to establish that jurisdiction.” Linardos v. Fortuna, 157 F.3d 945, 947 (2d Cir. 1998). “In resolving a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court may consider affidavits and other materials beyond the pleadings to resolve jurisdictional questions.” Cunningham v. Bank of New York Mellon, N.A., 2015 WL 4101839, * 1 (E.D.N.Y. July 8, 2015) (citing Morrison v. Nat'l Australia Bank, Ltd., 547 F.3d 167, 170 (2d Cir. 2008)).

         B. 28 U.S.C. § 1447

         28 U.S.C.§ 1447 provides for the procedure after a case has been removed to federal court. Subsection (c) explainns that “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C.§ 1447(c). It is the appropriate standard to apply where, as here, a complaint has been amended to add a party and it is claimed that the amendment has destroyed complete diversity thereby divesting the court of jurisdiction. Rosenfeld v. Lincoln Life Ins. Co., - F.Supp.3d -, 2017 WL 945114, *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2017).

         C. Principles Regarding Diversity Jurisdiction

         Diversity jurisdiction exists when all plaintiffs are citizens of states diverse from those of all defendants. Pennsylvania Pub. Sch. Employees' Ret. Sys. v. Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc., 772 F.3d 111, 117- 18 (2d Cir. 2014) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 553 (2005)). The party asserting diversity jurisdiction has the burden to prove the same. Pennsylvania Pub. Sch. Employees' Ret. Sys., 772 F.3d at 118. "[D]iversity of citizenship should be distinctly and positively averred in the pleadings, or should appear with equal distinctness in other parts of the record[.]" Leveraged Leasing Admin. Corp. v. PacificCorp Capital, Inc., 87 F.3d 44, 47 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks omitted). "A conclusory allegation in the Complaint regarding diversity of citizenship does not extinguish the Court's responsibility to determine, on its own review of the pleadings, whether subject matter jurisdiction exists." Richmond v. International Bus. Machs. Corp., 919 F.Supp. 107, 108 (E.D.N.Y. 1996), aff'd, 841 F.2d 1116 (2d Cir. 1988). For the purpose of diversity jurisdiction, "a statement of the parties' residence is insufficient to establish their citizenship." Davis v. Cannick, 2015 WL 1954491, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. 2015); Young-Gibson v. Patel, 476 F.App'x 482, 483 (2d Cir. June 12, 2012)).

         “For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, [an individual's] citizenship depends on his domicile.” Linardos v. Fortuna, 157 F.3d 945, 948 (2d Cir. 1998).

         A corporation is deemed to be a citizen of the state in which it is incorporated and of the state or foreign state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. 1332(c)(1); Carter v. HealthPort Tech., LLC, 882 F.3d 47, 60 (2d Cir. 2016). “A corporation's principal place of business under § 1332 is ‘the place where a corporation's officers direct, control, and coordinate the corporation's activities.' In practice, this ‘should normally be the place where the corporation maintains its headquarters-provided that the headquarters is the actual center of direction, control, and coordination, i.e., the nerve center.'” OneWest Bank, N.A. v. Melina, 827 F.3d 214, 218 (2d Cir. 2016) (quoting Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 92-93 (2010)).

         The citizenship of a limited liability company (“LLC”) is determined by the citizenship of each of its members. See, e.g., Bayerische Landesbank, New York Branch v. Aladdin Capital Management LLC, 692 F.3d 42, 49 (2d Cir. 2012); Handelsman v. Bedford Vill. Assocs. Ltd P'ship, 213 F.3d 48, 51-52 (2d Cir. 2000). “A complaint premised upon diversity of citizenship must allege the citizenship of natural persons who are members of a limited liability company and the place of incorporation and principal place of business of any corporate entities who are members of the limited liability company.” New Millennium Capital Partners, III, LLC v. Juniper Grp. Inc., 2010 WL 1257325, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2010), (citing Handelsman, 213 F.3d at 51-52); Bishop v. Toys “R” Us-NY LLC, 414 F.Supp.2d 385, 389 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 2006), aff'd, 385 ...


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