United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
SHAWNYETTA A. RUFFIN, as personal representative of the estate of Jannie A. Chandler, deceased, Plaintiff,
WALMART, INC. and WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court sua sponte regarding
Defendants' Notice and Petition for Removal [DE 1]. The
Court has an ongoing duty to police its subject matter
jurisdiction. Hay v. Ind. State Bd. of Tax
Comm'rs, 312 F.3d 876, 879 (7th Cir. 2002).
12, 2018, this matter was removed from the Allen County,
Indiana, Superior Court to the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division by
Defendants Walmart, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores East, LP.
Defendants removed the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441, alleging that the District Court has original
jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)
requires complete diversity of citizenship between the
plaintiff and both defendants and an amount in controversy
that exceeds $75, 000. Neuma, Inc. v. AMP, Inc., 259
F.3d 864, 881 (7th Cir. 2001). As the parties seeking a
federal forum, Defendants have the burden of establishing
that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Walker v.
Trailer Transit, Inc., 727 F.3d 819, 824-25 (7th Cir.
2013) (“The removing defendant ha s the burden of
proving the jurisdictional predicates for removal.”).
diversity of citizenship, Plaintiff's citizenship is
governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2), which provides that
“the legal representative of the estate of a decedent
shall be deemed to be a citizen only of the same State as the
decedent.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2); see also
Gustafson v. zumBrunnen, 546 F.3d 398, 399 (7th Cir.
2008). An individual is a citizen of the state in which she
is domiciled, and residence and citizenship are not
synonymous for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.
Dakuras v. Edwards, 312 F.3d 256, 258 (7th Cir.
2009). The Complaint alleges that, on May 10, 2018,
Shawnyetta A. Ruffin, a resident of Allen County, Indiana,
was appointed personal representative to administer the
estate of Jannie A. Chandler. (ECF 3, ¶ 3). The
Complaint further alleges that Ms. Chandler died on March 15,
2018, but does not allege Ms. Chandler's domicile at the
time of her death. Defendants' Notice and Petition of
Removal states generally that “Plaintiff is a resident
and citizen of Allen County, Indiana.” (EFC 1, ¶
3). However, Defendants do not reference § 1332(c)(2),
and, therefore, it is not clear that Defendants are referring
to the citizenship of Ms. Chandler at the time of her death,
as opposed to the citizenship of Ms. Ruffin personally, which
may be, but are not necessarily, the same. In addition,
Defendants must identify Ms. Chandler's domicile, not her
residence, for purposes of determining her citizenship at the
time of her death. Thus, clarification by Defendants of
Plaintiff's citizenship under § 1332(c)(2) is
required for the Court to confirm its subject matter
contrast, in the Notice and Petition for Removal, Defendants
sufficiently allege the citizenship of Defendant Wal-Mart
Stores East, LP and Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. as
Delaware and Arkansas for both entities. Defendant Wal-Mart
Stores East, LP is a Delaware Limited Partnership, of which
WSE Management LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, is
the general partner, and WSE Investment, LLC, a Delaware
Limited Liability Company, is the limited partner. The sole
member of WSE Management, LLC and WSE Investment, LLC is
Wal-Mart Stores East, LLC. The sole member of Wal-Mart Stores
East, LLC is Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., which is a
Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in
the State of Arkansas. (ECF 1, ¶ 3).
Defendants have not met their burden of establishing by a
preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000.00. The Notice and Petition of Removal
states only: “The amount in controversy in this case
exceeds $75, 000.” (ECF 1, ¶ 5). The Court
recognizes that Defendants cannot point to a specific amount
alleged by the Plaintiff in the Complaint because Indiana
Trial Rule 8(1)(2) bars plaintiffs from designating the
amount in controversy in a personal injury suit. When a
plaintiff has provided little information about the value of
her claims, “a good-faith estimate of the stakes is
acceptable if it is plausible and supported by a
preponderance of the evidence.” Oshana v. Coca-Cola
Co., 472 F.3d 506, 511 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Rubel
v. Pfizer, Inc., 361 F.3d 1016, 1020 (7th Cir. 2004)).
Defendants must meet this standard for the Court to confirm
its subject matter jurisdiction.
the Court hereby ORDERS Defendants to
FILE with this Court on or before
June 29, 2018, a supplemental
jurisdictional statement clarifying Plaintiff's
citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2) and