United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand, filed August, 20, 2018, (ECF No. 10). The matter is
fully briefed and ready for disposition.
25, 2018, this case was removed from the Circuit Court of St.
Louis City to the Eastern District of Missouri by Defendant
SL Western Lounge, LLC, on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. (ECF Nos. 1, 2). On August 20, 2018, Plaintiff
filed a Motion to Remand arguing that Defendant SL Western
Lounge, LLC is prevented from Removal as a forum defendant.
(ECF No. 10). On September 5, 2018, Plaintiff requested oral
argument and testimony on the Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 15).
On September 17, 2018, the Court denied Plaintiff's
motion for oral argument and testimony and ordered the
Plaintiff to conduct discovery as to the issue of diversity
jurisdiction and citizenship in support of her Motion to
Remand. (ECF No. 19). On November 5, 2018, Plaintiff was
ordered to provide the results of this discovery. (ECF No.
21). Plaintiff then filed a Motion to Compel Discovery
regarding the financial accounts of the sub-members of SL
Western Lounge, LLC, and other information pertinent to the
citizenship of the sub-members. (ECF No. 22).
November 29, 2018, the Court issued a Memorandum and Order
granting Plaintiff's motion to Compel and instructed the
Defendant to state the locations of the financial accounts
owned by the members and sub-members of SL Western Lounge,
LLC. (ECF No. 25). On December 18, 2018, the parties filed a
Joint Motion for Entry of an Agreed Protective Order which
was entered by the Court on January 4, 2019. (ECF Nos. 26,
27). On January 14, 2019, the Court held a telephone
conference with the parties and determined that the parties
had ten (10) days to confirm and resolve the outstanding
matters regarding the Motion to Remand. (ECF Nos. 32, 33).
January 25, 2019, the Plaintiff filed a Supplemental
Memorandum in this case with regard to the Motion to Remand.
(ECF No. 38). In her Supplemental Memorandum, Plaintiff
argues that because additional discovery indicates that SL
Western Lounge, LLC has a financial account in Missouri,
Missouri citizenship should be conferred on Defendant.
Id. On February 4, 2019, Defendant filed its
Sur-reply to the Motion to Remand, arguing that Plaintiff has
not made a proper argument to show that removal was improper
in this case, and on February 6, 2019, Defendant filed its
discovery responses with the Court. (ECF No. 41).
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), “[t]he 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 interest and costs, and is between-citizens
of different States.” “The removing party bears
the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction by a
preponderance of the evidence.” Boschert v. Wright
Medical Group, Inc., 2015 WL 1006482, at *2 (E.D. Mo.
Mar. 6, 2015) (citing Altimore v. Mount Mercy
College, 420 F.3d 763, 768 (8th Cir. 2005)).
Removal statutes are strictly construed, and “any
doubts about the propriety of removal must be resolved in
favor of remand.” Green v. Arizona Cardinals
Football Club LLC, 21 F.Supp.3d 1020, 1025 (E.D. Mo.
2014) (citing In re Bus. Men's Assurance Co. of
Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993)).
Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity between
citizens; therefore the Defendant cannot hold the same
citizenship as the Plaintiff. Eckerberg v. Inter-State
Studio Publishing Co., 860 F.3d 1079, 1084 (8th Cir.
Forum Defendant Rule
a defendant generally may remove a case to federal court when
the federal court would have original jurisdiction over the
action, “there is a restriction on the removal of
diversity cases known as the ‘forum defendant
rule.'” Perez v. Forest Laboratories,
Inc., 902 F.Supp.2d 1238, 1241 (E.D. Mo. 2012). This
rule, set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), “makes
diversity jurisdiction in a removal case narrower than if the
case was originally filed in federal court by the
plaintiff.” Johnson v. Emerson Elec. Co., 2013
WL 5442752, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Sep. 30, 2013) (citations
omitted). “Under § 1441(b), a defendant can remove
a case based on diversity jurisdiction ‘only if none of
the parties in interest properly joined and served as
defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is
brought.'” Id. (citing Lincoln Prop.
Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 90 (2005); Horton v.
Conklin, 431 F.3d 602, 604 (8th Cir. 2005)
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)); Pecherski v. General
Motors Corp., 636 F.2d 1156, 1160 (8th Cir.
1981)). Federal courts thus lack diversity jurisdiction over
a removed case in which one or more of the defendants is a
citizen of the forum state, see Perez, 902 F.Supp.2d
at 1241, and “the violation of the forum defendant rule
is a jurisdictional defect and not a mere procedural
irregularity capable of being waived.” Horton,
431 F.3d at 605 (internal quotations and citation omitted).
Citizenship of Limited Liability Companies
Eighth Circuit has been clear that for the purpose of
diversity jurisdiction, a limited liability company takes the
citizenship of each of its members. See E3 Biofules, LLC
v. Biothane, LLC,781 F.3d 972, 975 (8th Cir. 2015).
Although the Court of Appeals has not specifically addressed
whether the citizenship of sub-members is relevant to
establishing diversity citizenship, other courts have written
on this issue. In this circuit, the United States District
Court for the District of Minnesota has stated that,
“[w]hen diversity jurisdiction is invoked in a case in
which a limited liability company is a party, the court needs
to know the citizenship of each member of the company…
[b]ecause a member of a limited liability company may itself
have multiple members - and thus may itself have multiple
citizenships - the federal court needs to know the
citizenship of each ...