United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
matter comes before the court on plaintiff Countryside
Bank's motion to remand this case to state court. (DE #
14.) For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion
will be denied.
matter is before the court on diversity jurisdiction.
Plaintiff, Countryside Bank (“Countryside”),
filed its mortgage foreclosure action against defendant Sean
Sheikh, Jr. and other defendants in the Lake County Superior
Court on December 27, 2017. (DE # 1 at 1.) On April 4, 2018,
Sheikh removed the case to the Northern District of Indiana
on the basis of federal question jurisdiction.
Countryside Bank v. Naseer, et al.,
2:18-cv-132-TLS-JEM (N.D. Ind. filed Apr. 4, 2018). On May
15, 2018, the case was remanded back to the Lake County
Superior Court on the basis that the complaint did not plead
any federal claim. Id. at DE # 15. On September 17,
2018, Sheikh again removed the case - giving rise to the
present action - on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (DE
now moves to remand this case back to state court on the
basis that there is not complete diversity of citizenship
among the remaining parties. Countryside and Sheikh do not
dispute that Countryside is a citizen of Illinois and Sheikh
is a citizen of Texas. (See DE ## 2, 15.) Rather,
the parties' dispute pertains to the case status and
citizenship of a different defendant, Bushra Naseer. First,
the parties dispute whether Naseer should still be considered
a party to the state court case after the state court entered
summary judgment against Naseer on March 18, 2018.
(See DE # 15-1 at 1.) Second, to the extent that
Naseer remains a party to the case, Countryside argues that
Naseer is an Illinois citizen and thus there is not complete
diversity of citizenship and this case must be remanded. (DE
# 15.) Because the court finds that Naseer is no longer a
party to the case, the court need not reach the question of
district court may exercise diversity jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. “The district courts shall
have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the
matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000,
exclusive of interests and costs, ” and where complete
diversity of citizenship exists. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Complete diversity of citizenship exists where no plaintiff
is a citizen of the same state as any defendant. LM Ins.
Corp. v. Spaulding Enters. Inc., 533 F.3d 542, 546 n. 1
(7th Cir. 2008). Further, for removal based on Section
1332(a) to be proper, diversity of citizenship must have
existed at the time of removal. Harmon v. OKI Sys.,
115 F.3d 477, 480 (7th Cir. 1997).
defendant who seeks to remove an action to federal court has
the burden of establishing that the complete diversity
requirement was met. Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v.
Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536, 540 (7th Cir. 2006);
Meyerson v. Showboat Marina Casino P'ship, 312
F.3d 318, 321 (7th Cir. 2002). Thus, when a party opposing
federal jurisdiction challenges the allegations of
jurisdictional facts, the party seeking the federal forum
must prove those facts by a preponderance of the evidence.
Meridian, 441 F.3d at 543. District courts are to
“interpret the removal statute narrowly, ” and
any doubts regarding jurisdiction should be resolved in favor
of remand to state court. Doe v. Allied-Signal,
Inc., 985 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993).
preliminary question of whether Naseer remains a party to
this case was almost entirely neglected by the
parties. While both sides dispute whether Naseer is
still a party to the case, neither party provides any
authority or explanation for their position, instead relying
on conclusory allegations that she is, or is not, still a
neither party addresses the applicability of Indiana Rule of
Trial Procedure 54(B). Pursuant to Rule 54(B), the general
rule is that when an action involves more than one claim or
party, an order adjudicating fewer than all claims or the
rights and liabilities of fewer than all of the parties is:
(1) not a final judgment; (2) does “not terminate the
action as to any of the claims or parties;” and (3) may
be revised by the court at any time. Ind. R. Trial P. 54(B).
However, the rule provides a way for courts to finalize
orders disposing of only portions of a case, or to terminate
only some of the parties: “[a] judgment as to one or
more but fewer than all of the claims or parties is final
when the court in writing expressly determines that there is
no just reason for delay, and in writing expressly directs
entry of judgment . . . .” Id. See also Martin v.
Amoco Oil Co., 696 N.E.2d 383 (Ind. 1998) (adopting a
“bright line” rule requiring strict compliance
with Rule 54(B) before a trial court's order disposing of
less than all issues or all parties will be deemed final);
In re Estate of Botkins, 970 N.E.2d 164, 167
(Ind.Ct.App. 2012) (“[U]nless a trial court uses the
‘magic language' set forth in Trial Rule 54(B), an
order disposing of fewer than all claims as to all parties
remains interlocutory in nature.”).
the state court's entry of summary judgment against
Naseer expressly invoked the “magic language” of
Rule 54(B), stating: “Pursuant to Trial Rule 54(B), the
Court finds that there is no just reason for delay and,
therefore, directs the entry of final judgment as to the
claims adjudicated herein.” (DE # 15-1 at 3.) It
therefore appears that, under Indiana law, Naseer was no
longer a party to the case at the time it was removed to this
court and therefore her citizenship does not affect complete