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Deere v. American Water Works Company, Inc.

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

March 26, 2015

GREGORY J. DEERE, GINA R. DEERE, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN WATER WORKS COMPANY, INC. d/b/a INDIANA AMERICAN WATER CO., INC., Defendant.

ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S SECOND AMENDED MOTION TO DISMISS

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the Defendant's second amended motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 45). The motion is now ripe for ruling, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for the reasons and to the extent set forth below. The Court also DENIES the Plaintiffs' motion to limit the Defendant's motion pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(g)(2) and 12(h)(2) (Dkt. No. 47).

I. PLAINTIFFS' ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On August 6, 2012, while the Plaintiff, Gregory J. Deere, was mowing his lawn, the water meter cover on his property caved in and one of Gregory's legs fell approximately three feet into the open pit. He suffered injuries as a result of the fall. Thereafter, on June 26, 2014, Gregory and his wife, Gina R. Deere, filed the instant lawsuit identifying the Defendant as "American Water Works Company, Inc. d/b/a Indiana American Water Co., Inc." ("American Water"), alleging claims of negligence and loss of consortium. (Gregory and Gina are hereafter referred to collectively as the "Plaintiffs.") According to the Plaintiffs, American Water is a citizen of New Jersey and Delaware.

Days later, on August 5, 2014, the Plaintiffs filed virtually the same suit in Tippecanoe County Circuit Court identifying the defendant as "Indiana-American Water Company, Inc." ("Indiana American"), an Indiana corporation.

On August 25, 2014, American Water filed its first motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to Rules 8(b) and 12(b) with this Court. It argued, among other things, that the same matter was also pending in state court. The Plaintiffs did not specifically respond to the motion, but they did file a motion to strike the motion to dismiss. Thereafter, on September 4, 2014, American Water filed an amended motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction based, for the most part, on the same legal grounds. The Plaintiffs filed another motion to strike the amended motion to dismiss. Later that month, on September 29, 2014, American Water filed its second amended motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. This time, American Water argued that dismissal was proper pursuant to Rules 12(b)(7) and 19 (and not Rules 8(b) and 12(b)), because the Plaintiffs failed to join Indiana American as a defendant in the federal action and adding Indiana American would destroy diversity jurisdiction.

The Plaintiffs filed a motion to limit American Water's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(g)(2) and 12(h)(2), as well as a response in opposition. The Plaintiff's motion to limit, however, is essentially another response in opposition. The Court will address the parties' arguments below.

II. STANDARD

According to Rule 19(a)(1),

A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be joined as a party if:

(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may:
(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent ...

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