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Mayers v. Razor USA LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 3, 2019

MONICA MAYERS, WIFE OF AND CODY MAYERS INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THEIR MINOR CHILD, C.M.
v.
RAZOR USA LLC

          NOTICE AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This is a civil action involving claims for damages asserted by Plaintiffs Monica and Cody Mayers, individually and on behalf of their minor child, C.M. (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) based upon the personal injuries C.M. allegedly sustained when C.M.'s “Razor Pocket Mod Bella” electric scooter, which was manufactured by Defendant Razor USA LLC (“Razor”), caused C.M. to fall and suffer injuries after C.M. attempted to mount the scooter (the “Accident”).[1] On or about October 15, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Petition for Damages (“Petition”) against Razor, alleging that the scooter is unreasonably dangerous.[2] On November 22, 2019, Razor removed the matter to this Court, alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[3]

         Proper information regarding the citizenship of all parties is necessary to establish the Court's diversity jurisdiction, as well as to make the determination required under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 regarding whether the case was properly removed to this Court. Regarding the amount in controversy, the Petition and Notice of Removal indicate that Plaintiffs' claims are likely to exceed $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.[4] Further, the Petition and Notice of Removal adequately allege the Louisiana citizenship of Plaintiffs.[5] However, Razor has not shown that complete diversity exists because its own citizenship allegations are deficient. Razor is alleged to be a limited liability company.[6] For purposes of diversity, “the citizenship of a limited liability company is determined by the citizenship of all of its members.”[7] Thus, to properly allege the citizenship of a limited liability company, a party must identify each of the members of a limited liability company, and the citizenship of each member in accordance with the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) and (c). The same requirement applies to any member of a limited liability company which is also a limited liability company. See Turner Bros. Crane and Rigging, LLC v. Kingboard Chemical Holding Ltd., (“when partners or members are themselves entities or associations, the citizenship must be traced through however many layers of members or partners there may be, and failure to do [so] can result in dismissal for want of jurisdiction.”) (citations omitted).[8] In the Notice of Removal, Razor alleges that it has three members, as follows:

At the time of the incident in question and at the time of filing this Removal, Razor's current members and their respective domiciles/citizenship are as follows:
A. Great GT, L.L.C. - a foreign limited liability company formed under the law of the Cook Islands through Cook Islands Trust Corporation, Ltd. The sole member of Great GT, L.L.C. is the trust formed by Gino Tsai (former citizen and resident of China). The Trustee of Great GT, L.L.C. is Tina Tsai (Gino Tsai's widow). Mrs. Tina Tsai is a Chinese (ROC) citizen and a resident of Taiwan;
B. Small Minds Press, Inc. - a California Subchapter S Corporation with its principal place of business in California. Small Minds is owned by Carlton Calvin and his wife, Mary Blodgett, who are both United States citizens currently domiciled in the State of Washington; and
C. ROJIS LLC - a Delaware limited liability company whose sole member is Wei Pei Chen (a/k/a Robert Chen). Robert Chen is a Chinese (ROC) citizen and resides in the State of Washington. Mr. Chen has dual citizenship in both the United States and China.

         Pursuant to the foregoing, the first two members of Razor, Great GT, L.L.C. and Small Minds Press, Inc., appear diverse from Plaintiffs.[9] However, it is not clear whether the third member of Razor, ROJIS LLC, is diverse from Plaintiff. ROJIS LLC's one underlying member, Wei Pei Chen, is alleged to be a dual citizen of the United States and China. With respect to Chen's United States citizenship, Razor has only alleged that Chen “resides in the State of Washington.”[10] The Fifth Circuit has explained that, “For diversity purposes, citizenship means domicile; mere residence in the State is not sufficient.”[11] Furthermore, “[f]or adults, domicile is established by physical presence in a place in connection with a certain state of mind concerning one's intent to remain there.”[12] Thus, to properly allege the citizenship of an individual, a party must identify the individual's domicile. In order to properly plead Chen's American citizenship, Razor must specify Chen's domicile in the United States.[13]

         Although Plaintiffs have not yet made an appearance in this case, the Court sua sponte raises the issue of whether it may exercise diversity jurisdiction in this matter.[14]

         Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, by no later than December 17, 2019, Defendant Razor USA LLC shall file a motion to substitute is Notice of Removal[15] with a proposed pleading that is a comprehensive amended Notice of Removal (i.e., includes all of Razor's numbered allegations, as revised, supplemented, and/or amended), which adequately alleges the citizenship of all parties to establish that the Court has diversity jurisdiction over the case and which will become the operative Notice of Removal in this matter without reference to any other document in the record.

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Notes:

[1] R. Doc. 1-2, ¶¶ 1, 11-14. The Petition alleges that the Accident took place on “October 17, 2019;” however, the referenced date appears to contain a typographical error because the file stamp on the Petition indicates ...


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