United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
LIOI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the motion to remand of plaintiff Jeffrey Todia
(“plaintiff” or “Todia”). (Doc. No. 5
[“Mot.”].) Defendants LN Hospitality Cleveland,
LLC (“LNHC”), Charles Patel, and Michael Patel
(collectively “defendants”) opposed the motion.
(Doc. No. 7 [“Opp'n”].) For the reasons that
follow, plaintiff's motion is denied.
was the general manager of the Sheraton Cleveland Airport
Hotel (“Hotel”) in August 2015, when it was
purchased by defendants. (Doc. No. 1-1 (Complaint
[“Compl.”]) ¶ 10.) Charles and Michael Patel
are members and managers of LNHC, and supervised plaintiff.
(Id. ¶¶ 4, 5.) Plaintiff claims that in
December 2015, the Westin hotel approached him with a job
offer, but was told by Michael Patel not to leave the Hotel
because plaintiff was “part of the family.”
(Id. ¶ 11.) In November 2016, plaintiff alleges
that Charles and Michael offered him a new position to assist
with the acquisition of two other hotels, and plaintiff
accepted. (Id. ¶ 10.) About that same time,
defendants promoted a younger and less experienced individual
to the position of general manager, and promoted a young and
inexperienced management trainee to the position of vice
president of hotel operations. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Plaintiff alleges that, unbeknownst to him, there were no new
hotel acquisitions and, after he provided Michael and Charles
with the benefit of his knowledge regarding certain financial
matters related to the Hotel, he was terminated in December
2016. (Id. ¶¶ 14-19.)
filed a complaint in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas alleging age discrimination in violation of state law
(count I) and promissory estoppel (count II). Plaintiff is a
citizen of Ohio. (Id. ¶ 1). Defendants aver
that all of the members of LNHC, which include defendants
Charles and Michael Patel, are citizens of California. (Doc.
No. 1 (Notice of Removal [“Notice”]) ¶ 3.)
The Notice further states that plaintiff's salary when he
was employed by defendants was $125, 000.00, and the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. (Id. ¶ 9.)
Defendants removed this action pursuant to the Court's
diversity jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1332). (Id.
¶ 11.) Plaintiff's motion to remand is based upon
the single allegation that a member of LNHC is a citizen of
Ohio, thus, destroying complete diversity and the Court's
a limited liability company with five members: Charles Patel
and his wife, Reema; Mahendra (Michael) Patel and his wife,
Bhagyavati; and Bharathbhai (Robert) Patel. (Id.
¶ 3.) “[A] limited liability company is not
treated as a corporation and has the citizenship of its
members” for purposes of determining diversity
citizenship. Homfeld II, L.L.C. v. Comair Holdings,
Inc., 53 F. App'x 731, 732 (6th Cir. 2002) (citation
omitted). Plaintiff claims that Robert Patel is a citizen of
Ohio, not California, as asserted in the notice of removal.
Plaintiff does not contest the California citizenship of
LNHC's other four members.
support of this claim, plaintiff points out that Robert Patel
is identified as LNHC's statutory agent with the Ohio
Secretary of State, and the address listed is the address of
the Hotel. (Mot. at 43-44; Doc. No 5-1 at 48.) Under Ohio law,
a natural person who serves as statutory agent for a limited
liability company must be a resident of Ohio. Thus, plaintiff
argues, Robert Patel is a citizen of Ohio. (Id.,
citing Ohio Rev. Code § 1705.06(A)(1).) Plaintiff also
points to LNHC's Ohio trade name registration, which
identifies Robert Patel as a general partner with the same
address as the Hotel, and further argues that Robert Patel
accepted service of the complaint at the Hotel. (Id.
at 44; Doc. No. 5-1 at 54-55.)
response, defendants acknowledge that Robert Patel is
identified as the statutory agent for LNHC, and that Ohio law
requires a natural person registered as statutory agent to be
a resident of Ohio. (Opp'n at 69.) That said, defendants
attach the sworn declaration of Robert Patel to their
opposition, who avers that he is a citizen of California and
was so at the time the complaint in this case was filed and
removed, and has never been a resident or citizen of Ohio.
(Doc. No. 7-1 ¶¶ 1-4.) Defendants note that LNHC
“will have to amend their statutory agent information
with the Ohio Secretary of State.” (Opp'n at
69-70.) With respect to service of process, defendants point
out that service of the complaint was not accepted by Robert
Patel, but by A. Cyrus. (See Doc. No. 7-2.)
Engle v. UHaul, in the context of a motion to
dismiss, the court considered Ohio's public records in
finding that one of defendant LLC's members, registered
as its statutory agent, was a citizen of Ohio for purposes of
determining diversity jurisdiction. Engle v. UHaul,
208 F.Supp.3d 844, 849 (S.D. Ohio 2016). In that case,
however, there was no sworn statement by the member to the
contrary. Here, plaintiff did not reply to defendants'
arguments or evidence advanced in opposition to the motion,
and has not provided the Court with any legal authority that
LNHC's corporate records, not Robert Patel's sworn
declaration, controls the determination of his citizenship.
Court concludes based on the information available at this
time that Robert Patel is a citizen of California, and there
is complete diversity of citizenship between plaintiff and
defendants. That said, the Court is required to remand if at
any time before final judgment it appears that the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
If additional information emerges regarding Robert
Patel's citizenship (or any other reason) that calls into
question the Court's diversity jurisdiction, plaintiff
may refile his motion to remand.
reasons set forth herein, plaintiffs motion to remand is
denied. The Court will separately publish an order scheduling
this case for a ...