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Martin v. Global Experience Specialists, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 10, 2014

Mary Catherine Martin and Jeffrey E. Martin Plaintiffs,
v.
Global Experience Specialists, Inc., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS M. DURKIN, District Judge.

On August 14, 2013, Mary and Jeffrey Martin[1] ("Plaintiffs") filed a two-count complaint against Defendant Global Experience Specialists, Inc. ("GES") in the Circuit Court of Cook County. They claim that GES is liable for injuries Mary Martin sustained on September 14, 2011, when she tripped and fell at a convention in Texas. R. 1-1. GES removed the suit to this Court, asserting that the case falls within the Court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). R. 1. Plaintiffs oppose the removal and move to remand the case to state court. R. 9. GES moves for leave to amend its removal petition. R. 11. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' motion to remand is denied and GES's motion for leave to amend is granted.

Background

In their original state court complaint, Plaintiffs alleged negligence and loss of consortium against GES, the company alleged to be in control of the convention area and table over which Mary tripped in September 2011. The first count, negligence, was made on behalf of Mary and Jeffrey for "a sum in excess of the [Illinois] jurisdictional limit" of $50, 000. R. 1-1 at 5. The second count, loss of consortium, was made on behalf of Jeffrey in the same amount.[2] Id. at 6.

On September 17, 2013, the College of America Pathologists ("CAP"), Mary's employer, filed an Intervening Petition pursuant to provisions of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. R. 9-2. CAP asserted a lien on any recovery by Mary because of monies paid out to her for workers' compensation benefits. Id.

On September 20, 2013, GES served Plaintiffs with a request to admit facts pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216, inquiring into the citizenship of Jeffrey and the amount of damages in controversy in the case. R. 1-1 at 18-24. On October 3, 2013, Jeffrey responded that he was a citizen of Illinois. R. 1-2 at 44-45. Mary is also a citizen of Illinois. R. 1 at 2 (¶ 1). Additionally, GES asked Mary to admit or deny that the monetary damages she sought exceeded $75, 000, exclusive of attorney's fees, costs, and interests. R. 1-1 at 16-19.

On September 26, 2013, Mary filed objections to GES's request to admit facts related to the amount in controversy. R. 1-1 at 29-31. She stated that the request sought "the admission of irrelevant information, would require speculation, and calls for a conclusion." R. 1-1 at 30. Mary also stated that "whether or not the plaintiff ultimately seeks monetary damages in excess of $75, 000, it is not of any consequences to the determination of this matter whatsoever and therefore, is irrelevant." Id. Mary also responded that she "continues to seek treatment for the injuries sustained as a result of the occurrence alleged in Count I of the Complaint at Law; thus, the ultimate amount sought at trial is impossible to determine and would call for speculation." Id. Finally, Mary asserted that "the question of an amount owed by a purported debtor is legal in nature and thus, an inappropriate subject for a Request to Admit." Id.

On October 29, 2013, GES, filed a petition for removal to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. R. 1. On November 27, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to remand. R. 9. On December 12, 2013, GES filed a motion for leave to amend its petition for removal, adding CAP as an intervenor. R. 11. GES is a Nevada corporation with its principal place of business in Las Vegas. R. 1 ¶ 5. Neither party has disputed that CAP is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois. Id. ¶ 11; R. 14 at 3.

Analysis "As the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction, [GES] bears the burden of demonstrating that removal is proper." Boyd v. Phoenix Funding Corp., 366 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2004). Plaintiffs move to remand on three bases. First, they argue that GES's petition for removal is fatally flawed because it omits allegations, facts, or references to intervenor CAP, which destroys diversity of citizenship. R. 9 ¶¶ 14, 19. Second, Plaintiffs argue that GES failed to timely file its petition for removal within 30 days under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1) because GES filed its petition for removal 76 days after Plaintiffs filed their Complaint. R. 9 ¶¶ 15-17. Third, Plaintiffs argue that GES cannot establish that the Court has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because it cannot demonstrate the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. R. 9 ¶ 18.

I. Removal Petition References to Intervenor CAP and Party Alignment

Plaintiffs argue that CAP was an indispensable party to the case at the time it was filed and that, under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, CAP is subrogated to Mary's rights in the case. Plaintiffs assert that because GES failed to name and affirmatively allege CAP's citizenship in its petition for removal, the Court does not have jurisdiction. R. 9 ¶¶ 14, 19.

GES argues that its failure to allege CAP's citizenship in the petition for removal is not fatal because it provided notice to CAP when it removed the case, and therefore it complied with 28 U.S.C. §1446(e) which states:

Promptly after the filing of such petition for the removal of a civil action and bond the defendant or defendants shall give written notice thereof to all adverse parties and shall file a copy of the petition with the clerk of such State court, which shall effect the removal and the State court shall proceed no further unless and until the case is remanded.

28 U.S.C. § 1446(d)(1988).[3] R. 14 at 4-5. GES also argues that CAP's citizenship does not substantively affect its petition for removal because diversity of citizenship existed at the time of removal. Id. at 3-5. Specifically, GES contends that CAP would have been properly aligned with the plaintiff because CAP is seeking reimbursement of its workers' compensation lien. Id. Finally, GES argues that it did not need ...


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