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IUE-CWA, Local 901 v. Spark Energy, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

October 16, 2019

IUE-CWA, LOCAL 901, on behalf of itself and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
SPARK ENERGY, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Susan Collins United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant's motion for leave to file an amended notice of removal filed on September 23, 2019. (ECF 7). Specifically, Defendant requests to amend its notice of removal to explicitly state the amount in controversy at issue. (Id.). The Court however finds that neither Defendant's initial notice of removal (ECF 1), nor its proposed amended notice of removal (ECF 7-1), properly establishes that the Court has diversity jurisdiction over this matter. As such, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion without prejudice.

         A. Background

         On September 9, 2019, Defendant removed this case from Allen County Superior Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1446, on the grounds of diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (ECF 1). Plaintiff, in its state court complaint, alleges that Defendant engaged in a series of unfair and deceptive marketing and pricing practices. (ECF 3 ¶¶ 1, 2). As such, Plaintiff seeks relief for itself and a putative class of Defendant's customers under the Indiana Consumer Sales Act, Ind. Code § 24-5-0.5. (ECF 3 ¶ 4). In its initial notice of removal, Defendant asserts that it is a limited liability company (LLC) and is a citizen of Texas and Delaware for purposes of diversity.[1] (ECF 1 ¶ 7.b). Both the initial notice and the proposed notice, however, only state that “Plaintiff IUE-CWA Local 901 is a labor union of workers located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.” (ECF 3 ¶ 7.a; ECF 7-1 ¶ 7.a).

         B. Applicable Law

         As mentioned, Defendant removed this case from the Allen County Superior Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1446, on the grounds of diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Specifically, Defendant asserts that the Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) as incorporated in 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). (ECF 7 at 1).

         CAFA gives the district courts original jurisdiction over civil class action lawsuits if “the general requirements for CAFA jurisdiction are met: minimal diversity exists between the parties, the class exceeds 100 members, and . . . the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million . . . .” Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 617 (7th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), (5); see also Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 592 (2013). Minimal diversity, as opposed to complete diversity, only requires “just one party with citizenship different from all others.” Hart v. FedEx Ground Package Sys. Inc., 457 F.3d 675, 676 (7th Cir. 2006); see also Dancel v. Groupon, Inc., No. 19-1831, 2019 WL 5057669, at *1 (7th Cir. Oct. 9, 2019) (“CAFA permits removal of a proposed class action to federal court as long as there is minimal diversity, meaning just one member of the plaintiff class needs to be a citizen of a state different from any one defendant.”).

         Similar to the citizenship of an LLC, a membership association such as a “a labor union has the citizenship of every member” of the association. Fellowes, Inc. v. Changzhou Xinrui Fellowes Office Equip. Co., 759 F.3d 787, 788 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing United Steelworkers of America v. R.H. Bouligny, Inc., 382 U.S. 145 (1965)). As the party seeking to invoke federal diversity jurisdiction, Defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that CAFA's requirements have been met. Appert, 673 F.3d at 617 (citations omitted) (“The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating its existence.”).

         C. Analysis

         Defendant's assertion that “Plaintiff IUE-CWA Local 901 is a labor union of workers located in Fort Wayne, Indiana” (ECF 1 ¶ 7.a; ECF 7-1 ¶ 7.a), is obviously insufficient to establish minimal diversity. See Zapata v. Law Co., Inc., No. 12-3243, 2013 WL 12205971, at *2 (C.D. Ill. Sept. 6, 2013) (finding the assertion that “[the defendant] is a Labor Union [sic] group based in Springfield, Illinois” was “jurisdictionally insufficient”); see also Id. (“Because the Amended Complaint does not identify the citizenship of each of the Defendant's members, it has failed to properly invoke diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.”). As such, Defendant has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that CAFA's diversity requirements are met in either its initial notice of removal (ECF 1) or its proposed amended notice (ECF 7-1).

         D. Conclusion

         Accordingly, Defendant's motion (ECF 7) is DENIED without prejudice. Defendant is ORDERED to file an amended notice of removal that satisfies CAFA's diversity requirements and is afforded up to and including October 30, 2019, to do so.

         SO ...


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