United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MICHELLE FRANKLIN, individually and on behalf of the estate and wrongful death beneficiaries of Agnes Franklin PLAINTIFF
GGNSC SOUTHAVEN LLC, d/b/a GOLDEN LIVING CENTER SOUTHAVEN; GGNSC ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES LLC; GGNSC CLINICAL SERVICES LLC; GGNSC HOLDINGS LLC; GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL SENIOR CARE LLC; GGNSC EQUITY HOLDINGS LLC; GOLDEN GATE ANCILLARY LLC; SHIRLY CRUMP, Director of Nursing; JOGN DOES 1-10; and Unidentified Entities 1-10 as to Golden Living Center Southaven n/k/a Diversicare-Southaven DEFENDANTS
B. BIGGERS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the court upon the plaintiff's motion
to remand. Upon due consideration of the motion, response,
complaint and applicable authority, the court is ready to
and Procedural Background
case arises out of the alleged negligent care provided by
Defendant Golden Living Center Southaven (“Golden
Living”), a skilled nursing facility, to the now
deceased Agnes Franklin. Franklin was admitted to Golden
Living on November 5, 2014 and remained a resident until June
10, 2016. During her residency at Golden Living, Franklin
allegedly suffered a myriad of medical problems which
eventually led to her death.
August 6, 2018, Plaintiff Michelle Franklin, daughter and
administratrix of Agnes Franklin's estate, commenced the
instant litigation in the Circuit Court of DeSoto County,
Mississippi. Plaintiff asserts various tort claims against
Golden Living and its corporate counterparts (hereinafter
“Corporate Defendants”) and Golden Living's
Director of Nursing, Shirley Crump. Defendants promptly
removed the action to this court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. Plaintiffs now move to remand.
for Removal and Remand
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may
be removed by the defendant or defendants, to the district
court of the United States for the district and division
embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a). A district court has “original
jurisdiction of all 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. §
statutes are to be construed strictly against removal and in
favor of remand.” Eastus v. Blue Bell Creameries,
L.P., 97 F.3d 100, 103 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108-09 (1941)). “The intent of Congress
drastically to restrict federal jurisdiction in controversies
between citizens of different states has always been
rigorously enforced by the court.” Garcia v. Koch
Oil Co. of Texas, Inc., 351 F.3d 636, 638 (5th Cir.
2003) (quoting St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab
Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288 (1938)).
removing party bears the burden of establishing the basis of
federal jurisdiction. Id.¸see also De
Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404, 1408 (5th Cir.
1995). Should the court have any doubts about is
jurisdiction, “it should resolve those doubts by
ordering a remand.” Dardeau v. West Orange-Grove
Consolidated Independent School Dist., 43 F.Supp.2d 722,
730 (E.D. Tex. 1999) (citing Vasquez v. Alto Bonito
Gravel Plant Corp., 56 F.3d 689, 694 (5th Cir. 1995)).
court to have jurisdiction over this matter, it must be based
on diversity of citizenship. In moving to remand, Plaintiff
argues that the court lacks diversity jurisdiction because
the parties are not completely diverse. Complete diversity
“requires that all persons on one side of the
controversy be citizens of different states than all persons
on the other side.” McLaughlin v. Mississippi Power
Co., 376 F.3d 344, 353 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing
Harrison v. Prather, 404 F.2d 267, 272 (5th Cir.
1968)). Plaintiff is a citizen of Mississippi. Corporate
Defendants, as citizens of Delaware and California, are
diverse from Plaintiff. Defendant Shirley Crump, however, is
a citizen of Mississippi. Consequently, unless Defendants can
show that an exception applies, the parties are not
completely diverse and this court lacks jurisdiction.
argue that this court may disregard the citizenship of Crump
because she has been fraudulently, or improperly, joined by
Plaintiff to defeat federal jurisdiction. When a court's
jurisdiction is premised on diversity jurisdiction,
“[t]he improper joinder doctrine constitutes a narrow
exception to the rule of complete diversity.”
McDonal v. Abbott Laboratories, 408 F.3d 177, 183
(5th Cir. 2005). It is well-settled that courts place a heavy
burden of persuasion “upon those who cry
‘fraudulent joinder.'” B., Inc. v. Miller
Brewing Co., 663 F.2d 545, 549 (5th Cir. 1981).
establish improper joinder, the party seeking removal must
demonstrate either “(1) actual fraud in the pleading of
jurisdiction facts, or (2) inability of the plaintiff to
establish a cause of action against the non-diverse party in
state court.” Travis v. Irby, 326 F.3d 644,
647 (5th Cir. 2003) (citing Griggs v. State Farm
Lloyds, 181 F.3d 694, 699 (5th Cir. 1999)). Under the
second prong, the removing party must demonstrate that there
is no reasonable basis for the court to predict that the
plaintiff might be able to recover against the non-diverse
defendant. Smallwood v. Illinois Central R.R. Co.,
358 F.3d 568, 573 (5th Cir. 2004).
determining whether improper joinder is applicable, the court
“must  take into account all unchallenged factual
allegations, including those alleged in the complaint, in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ross v.
Citifinancial, Inc., 344 F.3d 458, 462 (5th Cir. 2003)
(quoting Travis, 326 F.3d at 649). Moreover, the
court “must resolve all ...