United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
date, the Court considered Plaintiff's Motion Seeking
Leave to Amend Pleadings and Join Parties (docket no. 19),
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the Affidavit Response
(docket no. 22), and the corresponding responses and replies.
After careful consideration, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's
Motion to Amend and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.
Because the amended complaint adds a non-diverse defendant,
diversity of citizenship is destroyed and the Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction. This case is remanded to state
Jesus Molina filed his Original Petition in the 224th
Judicial District Court of Bexar County, Texas on October 18,
2018. Docket no. 1-3. Plaintiff's claims relate to
injuries allegedly sustained when a Wal-Mart employee struck
Plaintiff with a train of grocery carts. Id.
Plaintiff asserts various negligence theories related to
premises liability, general negligence, and vicarious
liability for the negligent acts of employees.
a resident of Texas, named as Defendants Wal-Mart Stores,
Texas, LLC (“Wal- Mart”), Claudia Nava, Steve
Estrada, John Doe #1, and Jane Doe #1. For diversity
purposes, Wal-Mart is a citizen of Arkansas and Delaware.
Docket no. 1 at 2. Nava and Estrada, both Texas residents,
were Wal-Mart managers at the store in question when
Plaintiff was injured. Id. at 3. John Doe #1 and
Jane Doe #1 were the unnamed Wal-Mart employee or employees
who allegedly pushed the carts that struck Plaintiff. Docket
December 6, 2018, Wal-Mart removed the case to this Court,
alleging diversity of citizenship between the proper parties.
Docket no. 1. Given that Plaintiff, Nava, and Estrada are
citizens of Texas, Wal-Mart argued that Nava's and
Estrada's citizenship should not be considered because
they were improperly joined. Id. Plaintiff filed a
Motion to Remand, which the Court denied on March 6. Docket
no. 16. Nava and Estrada were dismissed as improperly joined.
Plaintiff identifies John Doe #1 as former Wal-Mart employee
Brandon San Miguel. Plaintiff's proposed amended
complaint adds San Miguel as a defendant and asserts a
negligence claim against him based on his handling of the
grocery carts that allegedly struck Plaintiff. Docket no.
19-1 at 5-6. San Miguel is a Texas citizen-as is Plaintiff-so
once more the Court must consider whether a non-diverse
defendant destroys jurisdiction in the case.
relevant inquiry here is whether the Court will allow
post-removal joinder of a non-diverse party to this lawsuit,
which would defeat the Court's jurisdiction. The Court
finds that Brandon San Miguel should be joined as a party to
this lawsuit, and that because of his joinder this Court
lacks jurisdiction to hear this case. The Court makes these
determinations by considering and allowing Plaintiff's
preliminary matter, Wal-Mart's removal was proper
because, under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, a federal court has
jurisdiction over controversies involving disputes between
citizens of different states where the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. The Court has jurisdiction since it is
undisputed that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000
and, as decided previously, Nava and Estrada were improperly
joined and the citizenship of the then-Doe defendants was not
considered for purposes of diversity of citizenship.
a court's subject matter jurisdiction may be defeated by
the addition of a non-diverse defendant. See Doleac ex
rel. Doleac v. Michalson, 264 F.3d 470, 477 (5th Cir.
2001). Joinder of a non-diverse defendant has a drastic
consequence on jurisdiction, so a court has discretion to
permit or deny joinder. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e)
(“If after removal the plaintiff seeks to join
additional defendants whose joinder would destroy subject
matter jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or permit
joinder and remand the action to the State court.”).
The Fifth Circuit has instructed district courts to exercise
discretion when considering a proposed amendment adding a
non-diverse defendant. See Hensgens v. Deere &
Co., 833 F.2d 1179, 1182 (5th Cir. 1987). The district
court should scrutinize the proposed amendment more closely
than when considering an ordinary amendment under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), which requires a court to
“freely give leave to amend when justice so
requires.” Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). When an
amendment will defeat jurisdiction, the court must balance
the defendant's right in “maintaining the federal
forum with the competing interest of not having parallel
lawsuits.” Hensgens, 833 F.2d at 1182. Among
the factors a court should consider are: (1) the extent to
which the purpose of the amendment is to defeat federal
jurisdiction; (2) whether the plaintiff has been dilatory in
asking for the amendment; (3) whether the plaintiff will be
significantly injured if amendment is not allowed; and (4)
any other factor bearing on the equities. Id. If the
court permits amendment, then it must remand to state court.
Id.; see also Priester v. JP Morgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 708 F.3d 667, 679 (5th Cir. 2013) (noting that
Hensgens is the “correct legal standard”
to apply in determining whether joinder of non-diverse
parties should be permitted after removal).
The Extent to Which the Purpose of the Amendment is to Defeat
first Hensgens factor a court must consider before
allowing an amendment that adds a non-diverse defendant is
the extent to which the purpose of the amendment is to defeat
federal jurisdiction. Hensgens, 833 F.2d at 1182.
Relevant to this factor is whether the proposed amendment
asserts a valid cause of action against the non-diverse
defendant. Tillman v. CSX Transp., Inc., 929 F.2d
1023, 1029 (5th Cir. 1991) (approving addition of a
non-diverse defendant after the trial court found that the
principal purpose of the amendment was not to defeat
jurisdiction since the amendment stated a valid claim against
the non-diverse defendant); Boyce v. CitiMortgage,
Inc., 992 F.Supp.2d 709, 720 (W.D. Tex. 2014).
Plaintiff asserts a valid claim for negligence against San
Miguel. Plaintiff's amended complaint would allege that
San Miguel “had such control over the grocery carts he
was pushing in furtherance of his employment objectives, had
a duty to push the grocery cart train in a safe manner to
avoid collisions with not only invitees but his fellow
employees on his work site. . . .” Docket no. 19-1 at
5-6. Nava and Estrada were improperly joined because
Plaintiff did not allege these managers created the dangerous
condition or were directly involved in the ...