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Circle Centre Mall LLC v. Zurich American Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 11, 2014




Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand and request for attorneys' fees and costs. [Filing No. 29.] For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand, as well as their request for attorneys' fees and costs.



Federal courts have original jurisdiction over "all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, " between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). "§ 1332 requires complete diversity, ' meaning that no plaintiff may be from the same state as any defendant." Hart v. FedEx Ground Package System Inc., 457 F.3d 675, 676 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267 (1806)). To determine whether complete diversity exists, "the citizenship of unincorporated associations must be traced through however many layers of partners or members there may be.'" Hart v. Terminex Int'l, 336 F.3d 541, 543 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Meyerson v. Harrah's East Chicago Casino, 299 F.3d 616, 617 (7th Cir. 2002)).

"[T]he removing party must establish any disputed aspect of diversity jurisdiction by offering evidence which proves to a reasonable probability that jurisdiction exists.'" Smith v. Am. Gen. Life & Acc. Ins. Co., Inc., 337 F.3d 888, 892 (7th Cir. 2003) (quoting Chase v. Shop N Save Warehouse Foods, Inc., 110 F.3d 424, 427 (7th Cir. 1997)); see Walker v. Trailer Transit, Inc., 727 F.3d 819, 824-25 (7th Cir. 2013) ("The removing defendant has the burden of proving the jurisdictional predicates for removal."). "If at any time... it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).



A. Procedural Background

Defendant Zurich American Insurance Company ("Zurich") removed this case from state court to this Court on July 10, 2014, alleging that this Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. [Filing No. 1 at 2-5.] Defendant Old Republic Insurance Company ("Old Republic") consented to removal of this action. [Filing No. 1 at 2.] Shortly thereafter, the Court ordered the parties to submit jurisdictional statements due to defects in the jurisdictional allegations of the Notice of Removal. [Filing No. 6 at 1-3.] The Court noted that the Notice of Removal insufficiently set forth the organizational structure of Plaintiff Circle Centre Mall LLC ("CCM"), and that many of Zurich's jurisdictional allegations were uncertain- e.g., several allegations were only "[b]ased on the investigation Zurich has been able to undertake to this point." [Filing No. 6 at 2.]

The parties were unable to agree about whether this Court has diversity jurisdiction, so they submitted separate jurisdictional statements. [Filing No. 21; Filing No. 23.] Plaintiffs also submitted a chart detailing the basic organizational structure of CCM. [Filing No. 21-1.] They argued that PGLP, Inc. ("PGLP") is a partner in CCM's organizational structure, and that like Defendant Zurich, PGLP is a citizen of Illinois, which destroys complete diversity. [Filing No. 21 at 2-3.] Defendants, on the other hand, disputed Plaintiffs' submission regarding the citizenship of entities in CCM's organizational structure. [Filing No. 23.] Specifically, Defendants stated that "[b]ased on the information that [they] ha[d] been able to verify by public records to this point, " they were "unable to confirm and/or verify" many of the facts submitted by Plaintiffs. [Filing No. 23 at 2-3.]

Based on the parties' jurisdictional statements, whether complete diversity existed remained unclear. Therefore, the Court reiterated to Defendants that they have "the burden of providing evidence of [CCM's] citizenship to the Court since [they are] attempting to invoke the Court's diversity jurisdiction." [Filing No. 24 at 2 (citing Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. Gemini Ins. Co., 2014 WL 3541296, *4 (N.D. Ind. 2014)).] Moreover, the Court "cautioned" Defendants "that simply claiming [they] cannot obtain information regarding [CCM's] citizenship through public filings... is not sufficient to meet [their] burden. Absent evidence that diversity jurisdiction is proper, this case will be remanded." [Filing No. 24 at 2.] Plaintiffs notified the Court that they wished to file a motion to remand, and the Court ordered them to do so. [Filing No. 24 at 2.] That motion is now pending before the Court.

B. Factual Background

The following factual background is drawn from the evidence submitted by the parties. Where the evidence is ...

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