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Regency Commercial Associates LLC v. Action 49 Junction I, LLC

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

November 13, 2017

REGENCY COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATES LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ACTION 49 JUNCTION I, LLC, ACTION PROPERTIES, LLC, FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Matthew P. Brookman United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on several motions related to the parties' jurisdictional dispute in this matter. The Court will address each in turn.

         I. Overview

         On September 12, 2017, Defendants, Action 49 Junction I, LLC, and Action properties, LLC (“the Action Defendants”) removed this matter from Vanderburgh Circuit Court to this Court. (Docket No. 1). The Action Defendants asserted diversity of citizenship existed because, in relevant part, Plaintiff, Regency Commercial Associates, LLC, as a limited liability company, had seven managers listed with the Indiana Secretary of State-whom were all citizens of Indiana. (Docket No. 1 at ECF p. 2). Thus, for purposes of federal diversity jurisdiction, the Action Defendants assert Plaintiff is a citizen of Indiana. Id. On the other hand, for the purposes of federal diversity jurisdiction the Action Defendants are citizens of Mississippi and/or Delaware and Fidelity National Title Insurance Company (“Fidelity”) is a Florida citizen- therefore, complete diversity exists. Id.

         It is Plaintiff's position that complete diversity does not exist, specifically because at least some of its members are Florida citizens-which is the same state citizenship as Defendant Fidelity. The following motions ensued.

         II. Action Defendants' Motion for Order Requiring Plaintiff's Statement of Citizenship (Docket No. 9)

         On September 21, 2017, the Action Defendants filed a Motion for Order Requiring Plaintiff's Statement of Citizenship (Docket No. 9), in which it requested an Order requiring Regency to provide a list of each of its members along with their citizenship so that the Court could determine whether jurisdiction existed. Action Defendants indicated that before filing the Notice of Removal, they conducted a reasonable search in order to determine Regency's citizenship by referencing Regency's filings with the Indiana Secretary of State and confirming that the seven listed Managers were all Indiana citizens. (Docket No. 9 at ECF p. 2, citing Docket No. 1-2).

         Regency opposes the motion and, correspondingly, filed a Motion to Remand for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. (Docket No. 10; Docket No. 11). Regency argues the Action Defendants, not Regency, bears the initial burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence facts that the requirements for diversity jurisdiction have been satisfied. (Docket No. 11 at ECF p. 2).

         If the Plaintiff has challenged the existence of federal jurisdiction, the Defendant, as the party that removed this case to federal court, has “the initial burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence facts that suggest the jurisdictional amount has been satisfied.” Carroll v. Stryker Corp., 658 F.3d 675, 680 (7th Cir. 2011). The Seventh Circuit has recognized that this “is easier said than done when the plaintiff, the master of the complaint, does not want to be in federal court and provides little information [necessary to establish jurisdiction].” See Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 511 (7th Cir. 2006).

         Nonetheless, it is procedurally improper to Order Regency to provide a list of all its members and their citizenship. The Local Rules for the Southern District of Indiana, in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, provide plaintiffs with two options once a notice of removal has been filed: (1) file a motion to remand within thirty days of the filing of the notice of removal, or (2) file a statement responding to the notice of removal's allegations as to the citizenship of the parties and the amount in controversy. S.D. Ind. L.R. 81-1(b). Regency has chosen the first option and filed a motion to remand.

         For those reasons, the Action Defendants' Motion for Order Requiring Plaintiff's Statement of Citizenship is DENIED. (Docket No. 9).

         III. Action Defendants' Motion to Conduct Limited, Expedited Discovery Regarding Plaintiff's Citizenship (Docket No. 16)

         On September 27, 2017, while the Action Defendants' initial motion requesting Regency's statement was pending, they filed a second motion requesting leave to conduct limited, expedited discovery regarding Plaintiff's citizenship. (Docket No. 16).

         The Action Defendants assert that limited discovery regarding Regency's citizenship is necessary because, despite their search of public records prior to filing the Notice of Removal, the Action Defendants were unable to determine any additional members nor their citizenship beyond those listed as Managers with the Indiana Secretary of State. (Docket No. 16 at ECF p. 2). The Action Defendants further asserted that Regency's counsel declined to provide the Action Defendants' counsel with a list of its members and their citizenship. Id. They argue that where the opponent of removal refuses to ...


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