drawn by Ford to include areas that should have been included as part of Prestige and Landmark's primary market areas, resulting in Ford issuing an unfair vehicle sales responsibility to Lynch. Finally, P 16 alleges that Ford is attempting to eliminate Lynch's dealership because Lynch is the primary competitor of Ford-owned Prestige and Landmark.
Believe it or not, that's about all the complaint alleges with respect to Prestige and Landmark. In short, the Court fails to envision how any of those allegations qualify as "wrong-doing" as to any of the six pleaded causes of action on the part of either Prestige or Landmark. Simply stated, the complaint alleges no wrongful conduct on the part of Prestige or Landmark.
Granted, the complaint also alleges that Ford, Prestige, and Landmark conspired to violate Lynch's rights. But, there are no factual allegations in the complaint which could support a conspiracy theory. It appears that Lynch would like the Court to infer that because Ford has ownership interests in Lynch's competitors, both Prestige and Landmark -- independent entities -- must have been conspiring with Ford to drive Lynch out of business. The Court cannot accept such an inference. Indeed, Lynch must plead factual assertions linking Prestige and Landmark to Ford's alleged wrongful conduct. See Leahy v. Board of Trustees, 912 F.2d 917, 922 (7th Cir. 1990) ("His allegation of a conspiracy between the Union and City Colleges constitutes a bare legal conclusion, unsupported by any factual basis."); Mid-America Regional Bargaining Ass'n v. Will County Carpenters Dist. Council, 675 F.2d 881, 886 n.13 (7th Cir. 1982) ("The balance of the complaint simply infers a conspiracy from the existence of that agreement and alleges that it was entered into pursuant to 'a conspiracy.' This is insufficient, however. Mere conclusory allegations unsupported by any factual assertions will not withstand a motion to dismiss.").
Apparently realizing the inadequacy of its complaint, Lynch, in its motion to remand, alleges additional facts in support of its conspiracy theory. Those factual allegations will be ignored however. Indeed, the Court's inquiry is limited to the factual assertions of Lynch's complaint. Poulos, 959 F.2d at 74; Batoff v. State Farm Ins. Co., 977 F.2d 848, 851 (3d Cir. 1992) ("In evaluating the alleged fraud, the district court must focus on the plaintiff's complaint at the time the petition for removal was filed."); Security Center, Inc. v. AT & T Co., 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6540, No. 94 C 6707, WL 307267 (N.D. Ill. May 16, 1995) ("The court's inquiry is limited to the allegations of plaintiff's present complaint."). Considering Lynch's additional allegations -- which are nowhere to be found in the complaint -- would conflict with the "legal maxim that jurisdiction depends on the situation at the time of removal, [citations omitted], and that once a case is successfully removed a plaintiff cannot do anything to defeat federal jurisdiction and force a remand." Shaw v. Dow Brands, Inc., 994 F.2d 364, 367 (7th Cir. 1993).
The complaint fails to state a cause of action against either Prestige or Landmark. Thus, the Court must conclude that both Prestige and Landmark were fraudulently joined as defendants in this matter in an attempt to defeat the diversity jurisdiction of this Court. But for the joinder of Prestige and Landmark, complete diversity of citizenship exists between Lynch -- a citizen of Illinois -- and Ford -- a citizen of Delaware and Michigan. Accordingly, the Court acknowledges jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to the diversity of citizenship statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
Lynch's motion for remand and request for attorney's fees and costs are denied.
Date: AUG 19 1996
JAMES H. ALESIA
United States District Judge