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Shoop v. Forquer

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

August 12, 2019

JOSEPH SHOOP and LAURA SHOOP, Plaintiffs,
v.
RANDALL RAY FORQUER, II and ARKEMA, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This case is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. (Doc. 13). The motion has been fully briefed. All parties who have been served have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).[1] The motion has been fully briefed and is ready for ruling. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' motion and remand the case to the Circuit Court of Adair County, Missouri.

         I. Factual Background

         On or around May 3, 2019 Plaintiffs Joseph and Laura Shoop filed a Petition for Damages in the Circuit Court of Adair County, Missouri. The Petition names two defendants: Arkema, Inc., and Randal Ray Forquer II. Plaintiffs allege that Plaintiff Joseph Shoop and Laura Shoop are citizens of Missouri; that Defendant Arkema, Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business and headquarters in Pennsylvania, and that Defendant Forquer is a citizen of Missouri.

         In their Petition, Plaintiffs allege the following. Plaintiff Joseph Shoop is certified in HVAC and refrigerant removal by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. On or about August 27, 2018, Defendant Forquer invited Plaintiff Joseph Shoop onto the property where he resided to exchange the refrigerant in an outdoor air conditioning unit (the “Subject Unit.”) After Plaintiff Joseph Shoop connected the Subject Unit to a refrigerant cylinder (the “Subject Cylinder”), the Subject Cylinder exploded, causing serious injuries to Mr. Shoop.

         Plaintiffs assert claims of negligence, strict liability, and loss of consortium against Arkema, Inc., based on Arkema's design, testing, manufacturing, and/or sale of the Subject Cylinder. Plaintiffs also assert claims of negligence and loss of consortium against Defendant Forquer. In their negligence claim against Mr. Forquer, Plaintiffs state:

37. Plaintiff Joseph Shoop was invited by Defendant Forquer onto the Subject Property with his consent to exchange refrigerant from the Subject Unit on the property.
38. The Subject Unit posed an unreasonable risk of harm to entrants upon the property and those exchanging the refrigerant in it, including Plaintiff.
39. Defendant Forquer failed to warn Plaintiff Joseph Shoop of the dangerous [sic] of the refrigerant that the Subject Unit was filled with.
40. At all times mentioned, Defendant Forquer had the duty to exercise reasonable care to protect Plaintiff Joseph Shoop against both known dangers and those that would be revealed by inspection.
41. Defendant Forquer through the exercise of ordinary care should have known that the Subject Unit posed a dangerous condition on the Subject Property.
42. Defendant Forquer failed to use ordinary care to warn of the dangerous condition on the Subject Property.
43. Defendant Forquer knew or should have known that Plaintiff Joseph Shoop would not discover such condition or realize the risk of harm.
44. As a result of Defendant Forquer's failure to warn of the dangerous condition, the Subject Cylinder exploded after it was connected to the Subject Unit, throwing Plaintiff Joseph Shoop and resulting in serious and permanent injuries to Plaintiff, including . . .
45. As a direct result of the dangerous condition of the Subject Unit, Plaintiff Joseph Shoop sustained the following damages: . . . .

Pet'n for Damages, Doc. 14-1.

         On June 12, 2019, Defendant Arkema, Inc. (“Arkema” removed this case to federal court on the basis of complete diversity of citizenship between the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). In the Notice of Removal, Arkema alleged that Plaintiffs are Missouri citizens, that Defendant Arkema is a Pennsylvania citizen, and that although Defendant Forquer is a Missouri citizen, his citizenship should be disregarded because he was fraudulently joined. Defendant Arkema also alleged that the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000. In the alterative, Defendant Arkema argues that the claims against Defendant Forquer have been misjoined and should be severed pursuant to Rule 21 to preserve diversity jurisdiction.

         On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to remand the case to state court, arguing that Defendant Arkema has not met its burden of proving that Defendant Forquer was fraudulently joined, and that therefore this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action. Plaintiffs also argue that because Defendant Forquer was not fraudulently joined, the failure of Arkema to obtain his consent to removal makes the Notice of Removal defective and necessitates remand. Plaintiffs also oppose Defendant Arkema's request to sever the claims against Defendant Forquer.

         II. ...


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