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Rudesill v. Charter Communications, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 16, 2018

LISA RUDESILL
v.
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, LLC

          NOTICE AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Lisa Rudesill (“Plaintiff”), filed a Petition (the “Petition”) in state court for damages allegedly arising out of injuries Plaintiff sustained in a June 8, 2017 accident. Plaintiff alleges that a low hanging utility line hung by defendant “was snagged by a boat being towed down Plaintiff's driveway. As the cable parted, plaintiff became entangled in it and the forward movement of the boat caused her to be dragged across the ground and underneath the moving boat trailer.”[1] On July 12, 2018, defendant, Charter Communications, LLC (“Defendant”) filed a Notice of Removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on the assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and the parties are completely diverse.[2]

         Although Plaintiff is alleged to be a citizen of Louisiana, [3] Defendant's allegations regarding its own citizenship are insufficient. In her Petition, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant is “a limited liability company….”[4] It appears based on Defendant's name - Charter Communications, LLC - that Plaintiff correctly describes Defendant as a limited liability company. However, in its Notice of Removal, Defendant asserts that it “is a foreign corporation domiciled in the state of Delaware, with its principal place of business in the state of Missouri….”[5] If Defendant is a corporation, it must allege its state of incorporation as well as its principal place of business.[6] In light of the discrepancy between its name and its assertion that it is a corporation, Defendant must also include an explicit allegation explaining the discrepancy.[7] If, alternatively, Defendant is a limited liability company, Defendant must identify each of the members of the unincorporated association and the citizenship of each member in accordance with the requirements of § 1332(a) and (c).[8] The same requirement applies to any member of the limited liability company which is also a limited liability company.[9]

         In addition to the insufficiency of Defendant's allegations of citizenship, the undersigned also sue sponte raises the issue of whether the amount in controversy requirement has been met. Per the Petition, Plaintiff alleges that she sustained “[a] severe injury to her right shoulder, which has required and continues to require extensive treatment, and will likely require surgery, ” “[c]uts, abrasions and cable burns to her torso, arms, legs and other body parts, which have resulted in permanent scarring and disfigurement, ” “[p]hysical pain and suffering, ” “[e]motional pain and suffering along with mental anguish and manifestations including nightmares, flashbacks and the like, ” “[l]oss of earning capacity, and an inability to fully perform and provide household services and to engage in household activities, leisure time activities, and family activities, ” “[m]edical and related expenses, which continue to accrue, ” and “[o]ther damages which relate to her injuries….”[10] In addition to citing this list of alleged damages, Defendant contends in its Notice of Removal that the amount in controversy requirement for federal subject matter jurisdiction is satisfied because “plaintiff has not asserted in her Petition that the amount in controversy does not exceed the amount necessary” and because “Plaintiff's attorney has not agreed to stipulate that the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000.00.”[11]

         The Petition does not provide any information regarding Plaintiff's amount of medical expenses. Although Plaintiff contends that her shoulder “will likely require surgery, ” Plaintiff has not alleged that surgery has been recommended or will actually occur. There are no verified discovery responses (such as requests for admission) or pre-removal settlement demands. Based on the information asserted in the Petition and Notice of Removal, the court sua sponte raises the issue of whether it may exercise diversity jurisdiction in this matter, specifically, whether the amount in controversy requirement has been met.

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Charter Communications, LLC shall file a Motion to Substitute the Notice of Removal with a comprehensive Notice of Removal that adequately alleges the citizenship of Charter Communications, LLC pursuant to the rules applicable to either corporations or unincorporated associations. Charter Communications, LLC shall have seven (7) days from this Notice and Order to file the Motion to Substitute. No further leave of court is required to file the Motion to Substitute.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Charter Communications, LLC shall file a memorandum and supporting evidence concerning whether the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is met, within ten (10) days of this Notice and Order.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall file either: (1) a memorandum and supporting evidence concerning whether the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 is met; or (2) a Motion to Remand within ten (10) days after the filing of the Defendant's memorandum regarding subject matter jurisdiction.

         The case will be allowed to proceed if jurisdiction is adequately established.

---------

Notes:

[1] R. Doc. 1-2, p. 2, ¶ V.

[2] R. Doc. 1.

[3] Per the Petition, Plaintiff alleges that she is a “resident and domiciliary of the Parish of Tangipahoa.” R. Doc. 1-2, p. 1, ¶ I. For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, an individual's domicile must be alleged. See, Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d 1396, 1399 (5th Cir. 1974) (“For diversity purposes, citizenship means domicile, mere residence in the State is not sufficient.”). While the Notice of Removal only alleges that Plaintiff “is a resident of the Parish of Tangipahoa, State of ...


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