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Schexnayder v. Md Nigeria, L.L.C.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

June 23, 2015

BRANDON SCHEXNAYDER
v.
MD NIGERIA, L.L.C. AND MEGADRILL SERVICES LIMITED

MEMORANDUM ORDER

KATHLEEN KAY, Magistrate Judge.

Currently before the court is Brandon Schexnayder's ("Plaintiff") Motion to Remand and Alternative Request for Jurisdictional Discovery. Doc. 9. The motion is opposed by defendants, Megadrill Services Limited ("Megadrill") and MD Nigeria, L.L.C. ("MD Nigeria"). For the following reasons:

IT IS ORDERED that the Motion to Conduct Jurisdictional Discovery is GRANTED and that the Motion to Remand is stayed pending the conclusion of the discovery period.

I.

BACKGROUND

On June 13, 2014, plaintiff, a Louisiana resident, was allegedy injured while working aboard the Monarch drilling rig, owned by Megadrill. Plaintiff filed suit seeking damages in the 38th Judicial District Court, Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Plaintiff originally named MD Nigeria, a Limited Liability Company based in Lafayette, Louisiana as defendant.[1] Plaintiff has since amended his complaint to add Megadrill, a corporation organized in the British Virgin Islands with offices in Lafayette, Louisiana as a defendant.

Defendant Megadrill Services Limited removed this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 1332, 1441 and 1446 basing removal on diversity jurisdiction and alleging improper joinder of the nondiverse MD Nigeria. Defendants claim that at the time of the accident, the Monarch rig was owned by Megadrill and had no affiliation with MD Nigeria and that plaintiff has no possibility of recovery against MD Nigeria.

Plaintiff filed the current Motion to Remand, claiming that MD Nigeria was properly joined and that Megadrill is a Louisiana citizen, both of which would destroy diversity in the suit. Plaintiff alternatively requests jurisdictional discovery to assess the working relationship and interconnectedness of Megadrill and MD Nigeria relative to the Monarch rig and to investigate the domicile of Megadrill. Doc. 9. Plaintiff contends that such discovery will show MD Nigeria was properly joined and Megadrill's principle place of business is in Louisiana, rendering it a Louisiana citizen. Id.

Defendants filed an opposition to this motion.[2] Doc. 11. Megadrill claims that diversity remains in this suit because MD Nigeria was improperly joined and because Megadrill is not a citizen of Louisiana. Id. Defendants also claim that MD Nigeria was in no way related to the Monarch rig or plaintiff's employment, and therefore was improperly named in plaintiff's petition. Id. Megadrill claims that because it is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, it is a foreign citizen and proper diversity exists between the parties. Id. Megadrill concedes, however, that it is amendable to conducting jurisdictional discovery within the limits of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in order to establish its citizenship. Id. at 5.

II

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Generally, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(d)(1) prohibits parties from engaging in discovery prior to a Rule 26(f) conference. However, an exception to the general prohibition against pre-conference discovery applies when discovery is "authorized by... court order." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d)(1).

Although the Fifth Circuit has not established a standard for allowing expedited discovery, many courts, including courts in this district, grant discovery before a Rule 26(f) conference where "good cause" exists. See, e.g., Wilson v. Samson Contour Energy E & P, LLC, 2014 WL 2949457, at *2 (W.D. La. June 30, 2014); BKGTH Prods., LLC v. Does, 2013 WL 5507297, at *6 (E.D. La. Sept. 30, 2013). Under a "good cause" analysis, courts "examine the discovery request on the entirety of the record to date and the reasonableness of the request in light of the surrounding circumstances." Wilson, 2014 WL 2949457, at *2 (quoting BKGTH Prods., LLC 2013 WL 5507297, at *5). Good cause exists where "the need for expedited discovery outweighs the prejudice to the responding party." BKGTH Prods., LLC, 2013 WL 5507297, at *5 (quoting St. Louis Group, Inc. v. Metals and Additives Corp., Inc., 275 F.R.D. 236, 239-40 (S.D. Tex. 2011). The party seeking expedited discovery has the burden to establish good cause. BKGTH Prods., LLC, 2013 WL 5507297, at *5 (citing Qwest Comm'ns Int'l, Inc. v. WorldQuest Networks, Inc., 213 F.R.D. 418, 419 (D. Colo. 2003).

The court may deny a request to conduct jurisdictional discovery where the party invoking discovery fails to describe the discovery it seeks to conduct, the evidence it expects to discover, and how that evidence would advance its allegations of the court's personal jurisdiction over another party. ...


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