United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge
October 3, 2017, Alex-Tela, Inc. filed a complaint in the
Court of Common Pleas for Lucas County against Western
Heritage Insurance Company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance
Company, Ken Pegler, and K & G Contractor, LLC. (Doc. No.
1). The complaint alleges breach of contract claims and bad
faith against Western Heritage and Nationwide. Claims of
negligence are asserted against Defendants Pegler and K &
November 6, 2017, Western Heritage removed the case to this
forum. Western Heritage based removal under 28 U.S.C. §
1332, as the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and on
complete diversity between Plaintiff and the properly joined
defendants. (Doc. No. 1 at p. 3). Western Heritage contends
Nationwide is an Ohio corporation with its principal place of
business in Columbus, Ohio, thereby rendering Nationwide a
non-diverse defendant and fraudulently joined in this
litigation. (Id. at p. 4).
matter is before me on the Plaintiff's motion to amend,
motion to deny diversity jurisdiction, and motion to remand.
(Doc. No. 7). Also before me is the Defendants' brief in
opposition. (Doc. No. 10).
The Applicable Legal Standard
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove any civil
action from state to federal court only if the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, both
at the time of the original action and when the petition for
removal is filed. Metro Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481
U.S. 58, 63 (1987); Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a). Following removal to
the district court, a plaintiff may seek remand of the action
to state court within thirty days after the notice of removal
is filed. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). If the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction, remand is proper. Id.
jurisdiction exists when the dispute involves a federal
question or when the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000
and, at issue in this case, there is diversity of
citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Diversity requires
complete diversity between a plaintiff and each defendant
named in the complaint. Newman-Green, Inc. v.
Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 829 (1989), citing
Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267 (3 Cranch)(1806).
Federal court subject matter jurisdiction is determined at
the time of removal. Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305
U.S. 534, 537 (1939). The removing party bears the burden of
establishing subject matter jurisdiction.
the doctrine of fraudulent joinder, a federal district court
may disregard the status of a non-diverse party joined for
the purposes of diversity jurisdiction. In Casias v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Sixth Circuit set forth the
legal standard to be applied in such an analysis:
Fraudulent joinder is “a judicially created doctrine
that provides an exception to the requirement of complete
diversity.” Coyne, 183 F.3d at 493 (quoting
Triggs v. John Crump Toyota, Inc., 154 F.3d 1284,
1287 (11th Cir.1998) (alteration in original)). A defendant
is fraudulently joined if it is “clear that there can
be no recovery under the law of the state on the cause
alleged or on the facts in view of the law ...”
Alexander v. Elec. Data Sys. Corp., 13 F.3d 940, 949
(6th Cir.1994) (citation omitted). The relevant inquiry is
whether there is “a colorable basis for predicting that
a plaintiff may recover against [a defendant].”
Coyne, 183 F.3d at 493. “The removing party
bears the burden of demonstrating fraudulent joinder.”
Alexander, 13 F.3d at 949 (citation omitted). When
deciding a motion to remand, including fraudulent joinder
allegations, we apply a test similar to, but more lenient
than, the analysis applicable to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss. See Walker v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 443
Fed.Appx. 946, 952-54 (6th Cir.2011). As appropriate, we may
“pierce the pleading” and consider summary
judgment evidence, such as affidavits presented by the
parties. Id. The court may look to material outside
the pleadings for the limited purpose of determining whether
there are “undisputed facts that negate the
claim.” Id. at 955-56.
695 F.3d 428, 432-33 (6th Cir. 2012).
plaintiff's motive in joining a defendant is immaterial
to this determination. Jerome-Duncan, Inc. v.
Auto-By-Tel, L.L.C., 176 F.3d 904, 907 (6th Cir 1999).
light of federalism and comity concerns, federal courts must
strictly construe removal jurisdiction and resolve all doubts
in favor of remand. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 109-09 (1941); Alexander v.
Electronic Data Sys. Corp., 13 F.3d 940, 949
(6th Cir. 1994).