IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
October 16, 2007
JONATHAN PACE, A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH HIS MOTHER, AND NEXT FRIEND, JULIA PACE, AND JULIA PACE, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS,
GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORTS CORP. D/B/A GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, AND JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
On June 25, 2007, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois. (Doc. 2, Ex. 1.) From the caption, it appeared that Plaintiffs intended to sue only one legal entity: Dover Motorsports Inc., d/b/a Gateway International Motor Sports Corporation, d/b/a Gateway International Raceway. However, in the body of the Complaint, Plaintiffs identified Dover Motorsports, Inc. ("Dover") and Gateway International Motor Sports Corporation, d/b/a Gateway International Raceway ("Gateway") as separate legal entities and defendants. (Doc. 2, Ex. 1, ¶¶ 1,4.) After Plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss Defendant Dover (Doc. 9) and the present motion to remand (Doc. 10) and Defendant Dover filed a response in opposition to the motion to remand (Doc. 11), the Court determined that the parties disagreed on who exactly was a named defendant in this matter. Therefore, on October 4, 2007, the Court issued an Order directing the Plaintiffs to file an amended complaint in accordance with FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 15 in order to correct the caption to accurately reflect the named defendants. (Doc. 12.) On October 12, 2007, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, which clearly identified the Defendants in the caption as 1) Dover Motorsports Inc., 2) Gateway International Motorsports Corporation d/b/a Gateway International Raceway, and 3) John Doe. (Doc. 13.) Subsequently, the Court entered an Order granting Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss Defendant Dover without prejudice. (Doc. 16.)
This matter is now before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to remand. (Doc. 10.) Defendant Dover filed a response in opposition. (Doc. 11.) For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion to remand. (Doc. 10.)
As mentioned above, this case was originally filed on June 25, 2007 in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Illinois. Defendant Dover was served on July 19, 2007 and filed a timely notice of removal on August 16, 2007. (Doc. 2.) In the notice of removal (Doc. 2), Defendant Dover stated that the basis for removal was diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendant Dover argued that complete diversity of citizenship existed because Plaintiffs are citizens of Missouri and Defendant Dover is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Delaware. In addition, Defendant Dover alleged facts that supported its argument that the amount in controversy clearly exceeds $75,000.
Plaintiffs' motion to remand, however, argues that the voluntary dismissal of Defendant Dover "removes the only basis for diversity jurisdiction of this action by this Court." (Doc. 10, ¶ 10.) In addition, Plaintiffs quote Doe v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 958 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993) for the proposition that "Courts should interpret the removal statute narrowly and presume that the Plaintiff may choose his or her forum." Defendant Dover, responding prior to Plaintiffs filing their amended complaint which clarified that Dover and Gateway were named as separate defendants, argued that 1) Plaintiffs had failed to identify a defect in the notice of removal and 2) if the Court dismissed Dover that the entire action should be dismissed, since Dover insisted that it was the only legitimately named defendant. (Doc. 11.)
District courts have jurisdiction over "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." 28 U.S.C. § 1332. A defendant may remove a case only if a federal district court would have original jurisdiction over the action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441; Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987).*fn1 Furthermore, jurisdiction is determined as of the moment of removal.
In re Shell Oil Co., 970 F.2d 355, 356 (7th Cir. 1992). At the time that Defendant Dover filed the notice of removal, complete diversity existed and the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000. Despite Plaintiffs' suggestion to the contrary, complete diversity remains even now that Dover has been dismissed. The Court is, quite honestly, confused as to why Plaintiff believes that complete diversity has ceased to exist. The notice of removal states that both Plaintiffs are citizens of Missouri and Plaintiffs do not contest this fact. Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Gateway is an Illinois corporation with its principle place of business in Illinois. (Doc. 13, ¶ 4.) Although Defendant Gateway has yet to be served, the time to serve Gateway has not yet expired, and therefore Gateway is still a defendant for purposes of determining diversity.*fn2 Accordingly, the Court finds that complete diversity exists among the parties*fn3 and that the notice of removal sufficiently establishes that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Therefore, this matter properly falls within the Court's diversity jurisdiction.
Having established that diversity jurisdiction exists in this matter, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion to remand. (Doc. 10.) In addition, the Court further FINDS AS MOOT Plaintiffs' motion to stay further proceeding pending determination of jurisdiction. (Doc. 14.)
IT IS SO ORDERED.
David R. Herndon Chief Judge United States District Court