United States District Court, N.D. Ohio
OPINION & ORDER [RESOLVING DOC. 6]
S. GWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Julie Chinnock moves to remand this case to state court,
arguing that it was improperly removed under 28 U.S.C. §
1441. She primarily contends that the parties
are not completely diverse and that the amount in controversy
does not exceed $75, 000. She also seeks attorney's fees and
costs, arguing that there was no basis for removal. The Court
DENIES the motion to remand and for fees and
1441 generally allows a defendant in a state-court case to
remove that case to federal court if the plaintiff could have
originally filed that case in federal court.
Chinnock's complaint includes only state-law
claims. As a result, removal in this case was
premised on the Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332. That statute allows this Court
jurisdiction over state law claims where (1) a civil action
is between citizens of different states and (2) the
controversy's value exceeds $75, 000. Chinnock contends
that neither requirement is met in this case. The Court
Plaintiff Chinnock argues that the parties are not
diverse. But she is mistaken.
Navient Solutions, LLC, is a limited liability
company. As a result, it has “the citizenship
of each of its members.” In this case, Navient Solutions
has only one member: Defendant Navient Corporation, a
Delaware corporation with its principle place of business in
Delaware. For diversity jurisdiction purposes, the
citizenship of a corporation—like Defendant Navient
Corporation—is determined by its (1) state of
incorporation and (2) principal place of
business. So Defendant Navient Corporation is a
citizen of Delaware. Moreover, because Navient Corporation is
the only member of Navient Solutions, Navient Solutions is
also a citizen of Delaware.
Chinnock, for her part, is a resident of either
Ohio or Arizona,  but not Delaware. The
named parties in this case are completely diverse.
Chinnock appears to argue that discovery may reveal that some
of her fictitious defendants may be
non-diverse. But the removal statute directs the
Court to disregard “defendants sued under fictitious
names.” While Chinnock asks the Court to
recognize an equitable exception to that command in this
case,  there is no basis for such an exception
in the statute.
next contends that the amount in controversy in this case is
less than $75, 000. But that is plainly not true. As
Plaintiff Chinnock's original complaint and
Defendants' notice of removal make clear, Chinnock is
asking the Court to declare that she need not repay over
$200, 000 in loan debt. Defendants have also attached an
affidavit attesting that it services eight federal student
loans obtained by Plaintiff Chinnock and that she presently
owes $232, 730.56 on those loans.Chinnock is also asking
for damages. That is sufficient to satisfy the amount
in controversy requirement.
true that Plaintiff Chinnock has now amended her complaint to
remove the loan amounts from her allegations. But such
artful pleading is not sufficient to avoid federal
jurisdiction.Defendants claim that Plaintiff Chinnock
owes them more than $200, 000. And she asks the Court to
declare that she does not owe the Defendants any money. The
Court therefore finds by a preponderance of the evidence that
the amount in controversy in this case exceeds $75,
000. After all, if Plaintiff Chinnock does
not prevail in this litigation, she will owe Defendants over
Plaintiff Chinnock argues that Defendants lack standing to
seek removal because they are not real parties at
interest. This is a singularly odd argument.
First, because they have been sued, the Defendants obviously
have the right to seek removal so long as they meet the
requirements of § 1441. And second, this argument
suggests that Chinnock has no valid claims against the
Defendants. The Court will reserve consideration of this
second point until it considers Defendants' motion to
dismiss. For now, however, it rejects this argument as a
basis for remanding the case.
the Court concludes that removal was allowed, it also rejects
Plaintiff Chinnock's motion for attorney's fees and
of those reasons, the Court DENIES the
motion to remand this case to state court and ...