United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
DEBRA HAJICEK as Personal Representative of the Estate of Ronald Ruiz, Deceased, Plaintiff,
WERNER ENTERPRISES, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court sua sponte. On November
9, 2016, Plaintiff, Debra Hajicek as the Personal
Representative of the Estate of Ronald Ruiz, Deceased, filed
a Complaint in St. Joseph County Circuit Court against
Defendants, Werner Enterprises, Inc. (“Werner”)
and Stanley Polk. On December 2016, Werner filed a Notice of
Removal alleging subject matter jurisdiction conferred by
diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. On
February 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint
against both Werner and Polk. However, on May 31, 2017, this
Court granted Plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal
of Werner leaving Stanley Polk, proceeding pro se,
as the only defendant in this action.
of Werner's Notice of Removal and Plaintiff's
operative First Amended Complaint reveals jurisdictional
issues that must be addressed, including the remaining
parties' diversity of citizenship, the Court's
authority to exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant
Polk, and the proper venue for this case.
case arises following the death of Ronald Ruiz, a truck
driver employed by non-party Drivers Management, LLC
(“Drivers”). Defendant Werner retained Drivers to
train its employee-Defendant Polk-as a truck driver. Drivers
appointed Ruiz as Polk's trainer. As part of Polk's
training, Ruiz and Polk ended up on an interstate highway in
Bell County, Texas south of Salado on August 27, 2015. Late
that night, Polk stabbed Ruiz who died from his injuries.
Polk is now incarcerated in Bell County, Texas as the result
of his criminal conviction related to the events of August
Notice of Removal, Werner alleged “upon information and
belief” that Ruiz, the decedent, “was a resident
and citizen of the State of Indiana at the time of the
incident.” [DE 1 at 1, ¶ 2]. Werner
further asserted that complete diversity exists based on
Ruiz's citizenship in Indiana, Werner's citizenship
in Nebraska, and Polk's citizenship in Nevada. In her
First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff does not explicitly allege
complete diversity. However, Plaintiff notes that Ruiz
“was a resident of St. Joseph County, Indiana”
[DE 16 at 1, ¶ 1]; Werner “was a Nebraska
corporation doing business in Indiana” ‘DE 16
at 1, ¶ 3]; and Polk “was a resident of Las
Vegas, Nevada” [DE 16 at 1, ¶ 4].
Diversity of Citizenship
existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction in a case
removed from state court must be assessed as of the time of
removal.” In re Fedex Ground Package Sys., Inc.
Employment Practices Litig., No. 3:05-MD-527RM, 2010 WL
583915, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Feb. 11, 2010) (citing Oshana v.
Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 510-511 (7th Cir.2006)).
“[T]he party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the
burden of demonstrating its existence.” Hart v.
FedEx Ground Package System Inc., 457 F.3d 675, 679 (7th
Cir. 2006) (citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better
Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 104 (1998)).
Werner's Notice of Removal is inadequate for purposes of
establishing diversity jurisdiction. While Werner adequately
alleged the citizenship of itself and Polk, its allegation of
Ruiz's citizenship “upon information and
belief” is insufficient to establish jurisdiction.
“Allegations of federal subject matter jurisdiction may
not be made on the basis of information and belief, only
personal knowledge.” Yount v. Shashek, No.
Civ. 06-753-GPM, 2006 WL 4017975, at *10 n.1 (S.D. Ill.Dec.
7, 2006) (citing Am.'s Best Inns, Inc. v. Best Inns
of Abilene, L.P., 980 F.2d 1072, 1074 (7th Cir.
Personal Jurisdiction over Defendant Polk
order for a district court to bind an individual, the court
must have personal jurisdiction over that individual.”
Brook v. McCormley, __ F.3d __, __, 2017 WL 4531687,
at *1 (7th Cir. Oct. 11, 2017) (citing Ins. Corp. of Ir.,
Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456
U.S. 694, 701 (1982)). “The plaintiff bears the burden
of establishing personal jurisdiction.” Id.
(citing Cent. States, Se. & Sw. Areas Pension Fund v.
Reimer Express World Corp., 230 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir.
federal district court may exercise personal jurisdiction
over a defendant if a court of general jurisdiction of the
state in which it sits would have such jurisdiction.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(k)(1)(A). This Court, sitting in Indiana,
turns to the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, which provide
for personal jurisdiction “on any basis not
inconsistent with the Constitutions of this state or the
United States.” Ind. R. Tr. P. 4.4(A). Thus, Indiana
permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the full
extent permitted by the Due Process clause of the United
States Constitution. See LinkAmerica Corp. v.
Albert, 857 N.E.2d 961, 967 (Ind. 2006).
exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant under the Due
Process clause, the defendant must have “certain
minimum contacts with [Indiana] such that the maintenance of
the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe
Co. v. Wash., 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1946) (quoting
Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). The
defendant “should reasonably anticipate being haled
into court [in Indiana], ” World-Wide Volkswagen
Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980), if he
“purposefully avails [himself] of the privilege of
conducting activities within [the state], ” Hanson
v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253 (1958). The two forms of
personal jurisdiction that a court may exercise over a
non-resident defendant are “specific” and
“general” jurisdiction. See Helicopteros
Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S.
defendant is subject to general jurisdiction when it has
‘continuous and systematic general business
contacts' with the forum state.” uBID, Inc.
v.GoDaddy Group, Inc., 623 F.3d 421, 425-26
(7th Cir. 2010) (citing Helicopteros, 466 U.S. at
415-16). In this case, the exercise of general jurisdiction
would be appropriate if Polk's contacts with Indiana were
“so extensive to be tantamount to [Polk] being
constructively present in the state to such a degree that it
would be fundamentally fair to require [him] to answer in an
Indiana court in any litigation arising out of
any transaction or occurrence taking place
anywhere in the world.” Purdue Research
Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 787
(7th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff has not demonstrated that ...