Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pryor v. Chr. Hansen Inc.

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

March 5, 2019

JACK R. PRYOR, CHARMIN C PRYOR, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHR. HANSEN INC., CITRUS & ALLIED ESSENCES, LTD., EVONIK INDUSTRIES, AG, GIVAUDAN f/k/a TASTEMAKER, FRIES & FRIES, MALLINCKRODT, GOLD MEDAL PRODUCTS COMPANY, H.B. TAYLOR COMPANY, INTERNATIONAL BAKER'S SERVICES, INC., INTERNATIONAL FLAVORS & FRAGRANCES, INC., KERRY FLAVOR SYSTEMS US, LLC, SENSIENT FLAVORS INTERNATIONAL, INC., SYMRISE, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND

          James Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Jack and Charmin Pryor filed a lawsuit against Defendants in the Marion County Superior Court seeking redress for injuries and damages allegedly caused by Jack Pryor's occupational exposure to chemicals. International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. removed the case to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction, dkt. 1, and Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand in October 2018 followed by a Second Motion to Remand in December. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Second Motion is GRANTED. Dkt. [115].

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         Jack Pryor, an Indiana citizen, has worked at the Weaver Popcorn Company production plant in Van Buren, Indiana for the last twenty-four years. Dkt. 1-1 at 22. He suffers from lung disease that he alleges was caused by his exposure to various chemicals used in the Weaver Plant to flavor the popcorn (“toxic flavorings”). Id. For these injuries, he and his wife sued eleven different companies for civil conspiracy, product liability, and fraudulent concealment. Id. at 29-46. Each of these companies allegedly manufactures or distributes the flavorings that are alleged to have caused Plaintiff's injuries. Id. at 23-26. Most of these companies operate outside of Indiana, but two of them-International Baker's Services, Inc. and Sensient Flavors International, Inc. (the “Indiana Defendants”)-are Indiana citizens.

         International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. removed the case to this Court based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. Dkt. 62. Recognizing that Plaintiffs and the Indiana Defendants are all Indiana citizens, International Flavors argues that the Indiana Defendants' citizenship should not be considered for diversity jurisdiction purposes because “there is no possibility that Plaintiffs can establish a cause of action” against them. Id. ¶ 5. According to International Flavors, the Indiana Defendants never sold or distributed any products to the Weaver Plant where Plaintiff worked, so they could not possibly have caused Plaintiff's injuries. The Indiana Defendants, therefore, have been “fraudulently joined” as defendants in this case to defeat diversity jurisdiction, so their citizenship can be safely ignored. Id.

         On December 10, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a Second Motion to Remand arguing that the Indiana Defendants were not fraudulently joined and that International Flavor's removal did not properly allege the Court's jurisdiction. Dkt. 115. International Flavors filed an opposition to Plaintiffs' motion, dkt. 122, to which Plaintiffs replied, dkt. 123. The Motion to Remand has been fully briefed and is now ripe for the Court's consideration.

         II. Analysis

         Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005). A district court cannot hear a case unless there is a clear statutory basis for its jurisdiction. Id. The removing party bears the burden of establishing this basis. Tri-State Water Treatment, Inc. v. Bauer, 845 F.3d 350, 352 (7th Cir. 2017). Here, Plaintiffs argue that International Flavor's Notice of Removal fails to establish the Court's jurisdiction because some of the jurisdictional allegations are based on “information and belief” and there is not complete diversity as required, despite International Flavor's argument that the Indiana Defendants were fraudulently joined. The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.

         A. Removal Based on Information and Belief

          The Court may exercise diversity jurisdiction only if the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 exclusive of cost and fees. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). When removing a case, a “naked declaration that there is diversity of citizenship is never sufficient.” Thomas v. Guardsmark, LLC, 487 F.3d 531, 533 (7th Cir. 2007). Rather, the removing party must allege jurisdiction based on personal knowledge-not just on its information and belief-to invoke the subject-matter jurisdiction of a federal court. See America's Best Inns, Inc. v. Best Inns of Abilene, L.P., 980 F.2d 1072, 1074 (7th Cir. 1992).

         Here, Plaintiffs claim that the Court should remand the case because International Flavors alleged the parties' citizenship based on its “information and belief” rather than its personal knowledge. Dkt. 115 at 8-9. The Court disagrees and finds that International Flavors has sufficiently alleged jurisdiction based on personal knowledge. International Flavors has alleged the citizenship of each Defendant without using the phrase “information and belief.” Dkt. 62 ¶¶ 7-18. These jurisdictional allegations are supported by an affidavit based on “personal knowledge”, dkt. 62-5, and documents from the Defendants' Secretary of State Offices confirming their citizenship. Dkts. 65-6-65-18. This is enough to establish the Defendants' citizenship.

         While International Flavors has alleged that Plaintiffs are citizens of Indiana based on its “information and belief, ” dkt. 62 ¶ 6, the Court is nevertheless satisfied that Plaintiffs' citizenship has been sufficiently established. Plaintiffs themselves allege, and thus admit that, for diversity jurisdiction purposes, they are Indiana citizens. Dkt. 1-1 at 26. Indeed, Plaintiffs' Second Motion to Remand is premised on a lack of complete diversity because, like Plaintiffs, two Defendants are Indiana citizens. Plaintiffs themselves are “in the best position to furnish evidence of their citizenship, ” and they have chosen not to challenge International Flavors' assertion of their citizenship. Med. Assur. Co. v. Hellman, 610 F.3d 371, 376 (7th Cir. 2010) (holding that the district court had jurisdiction when the case was removed based on the unchallenged citizenship of another party based on “information and belief”).

         Therefore, International Flavors has properly provided the citizenship of the parties, and the Court will not remand the case on this ground.

         B. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.