United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MCBRYDE UNITED STATES DISTRICX JUDGE
for consideration the motion of plaintiff, Carren Stratford,
by next friend Jackson Nyamwaya, to remand. The court, having
considered the motion, the response of defendants,
Thyssenkrupp Elevator Co. ("TKE") and Randal J.
Mason ("Mason"), the reply, the record, and
applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be
August 6, 2019, plaintiff filed her first amended petition
against defendants in the District Court of Tarrant County,
Texas, 17th Judicial District. Doc. 11. Plaintiff, who was
seriously injured as the result of an elevator malfunction at
the hospital where she worked, alleged that such malfunction
occurred due to the negligence of TKE, the company contracted
to service the elevator, and Mason, the TKE employee assigned
to inspect and maintain the elevator. Id. at 5-6.
September 5, 2019, defendants filed their notice of removal,
bringing the action before this court. Doc. 1. Defendants
assert that removal was appropriate because the court had
diversity jurisdiction, id. at 5. The amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. Id. at 5-6; Doc. 11 at
2. TKE is a citizen of Delaware and Georgia, while plaintiff
and Mason are citizens of Texas. Doc. 1 at 6. Defendants
argue that Mason's citizenship does not defeat diversity
jurisdiction because he has been improperly joined because
plaintiff failed to plead that Mason breached an independent
duty of care. Id. at 7-8.
Grounds of the Motion
asserts that joinder of Mason is proper because plaintiff
adequately pleaded that Mason breached a duty independent
from TKE's and therefore could be found liable in state
court. Doc. 8 at 12.
Applicable Legal Principles
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove to federal
court any state court action of which the federal district
court would have original jurisdiction. "The
removing party bears the burden of showing that federal
[subject matter] jurisdiction exists and that removal was
proper." Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins.
Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002) (citations
omitted). "Moreover, because the effect of removal is to
deprive the state court of an action properly before it,
removal raises significant federalism concerns . . . which
mandate strict construction of the removal statute."
Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sen. Dist., 44
F.3d 362, 365-66 (5th Cir. 1995}. Any doubts about whether
removal jurisdiction is proper must therefore be resolved
against the exercise of federal jurisdiction. Acuna v.
Brown & Root Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir.
Fraudulent or Improper Joinder
determine whether a party was fraudulently or improperly
joined to prevent removal, "the court must analyze
whether (1) there is actual fraud in pleading jurisdictional
facts or (2) the plaintiff is unable to establish a cause of
action against the nondiverse defendant." Campbell
v. Stone Ins., Inc., 509 F.3d 665, 669 (5th Cir. 2007)
(citation omitted). Because defendants have not alleged
actual fraud in the pleadings, the applicable test for
improper joinder is:
whether the defendant has demonstrated that there is no
possibility of recovery by the plaintiff against an in-state
defendant, which stated differently means that there is no
reasonable basis for the district court to predict that the
plaintiff might be able to recover against an in-state
Smallwood v. Ill. Cent. R.R., 385 F.3d 568, 573 (5th
Cir. 2004). To answer this question, the court may either:
(1) conduct a Rule 12(b)(6)-type analysis of the complaint or
(2) in rare cases and at the court's discretion,
"pierce the pleadings and conduct a summary
inquiry" if the plaintiff "has stated a claim, but
has misstated or omitted discrete facts ...