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Godsill v. Americold Realty Trust

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 2, 2018

ROBERT MATTHEW GODSILL, individually, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICOLD REALTY TRUST, an Oregon Corporation; and AMERICOLD LOGISTICS, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION RE JURISDICTION AND CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER TRACK: (STANDARD)

          B. LYNN WINMILL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 4, 2018, the Court conducted a scheduling conference in this case. During the conference, the Court questioned whether plaintiff had adequately alleged jurisdiction, as there did not appear to be a federal claim, and plaintiff had not alleged sufficient facts for the Court to determine if diversity jurisdiction existed. Plaintiff agreed to file an amended complaint to address these concerns. Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on June 18, 2018. For the reasons explained below, the Court has determined that it has jurisdiction of this case and will therefore enter a Case Management Order.

         DECISION REGARDING JURISDICTION

         The amended complaint alleges that the Court has diversity jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Amended Compl., Dkt. 18, ¶ 5. But the plaintiff still has not alleged sufficient facts to establish diversity jurisdiction. The problems are:

(1) Plaintiff has sued Americold Realty Trust, which is identified as “an Oregon corporation.” See Id. ¶ 2. Plaintiff does not allege where Americold Realty Trust has its principal place of business. For diversity purposes, a corporation may have dual citizenship: “A corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of every state and foreign state by which it has been incorporated and the State or foreign state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1) (emphasis added). Thus, plaintiff should have alleged where Americold Realty Trust's principal place of business is.
(2) The next problem relates to the second named defendant, “Americold Logistics, LLC.” Plaintiff alleges that this defendant is a “Delaware limited liability company organized under the laws of the State of Delaware and authorized to transact business in the State of Idaho.” Am. Compl., Dkt. 18 at 3. Plaintiff has not alleged the citizenship of the members of this entity. Courts treat limited liability companies the same as partnerships for diversity jurisdiction purposes, and therefore look to the citizenship of each member of the company. See Johnson v. Columbia Props. Anchorage, LP, 437 F.3d 894, 899 (9th Cir. 2006); see generally O'Connell & Stevenson, Rutter Group Prac. Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial ¶ 2:1372 (2017).

         Given these deficiencies, the Court cannot determine if diversity jurisdiction exists, so it will decline to accept jurisdiction on that basis. See generally Americold Realty Trust v. Conagra Foods, 136 S.Ct. 1012 (2016) (because no record of plaintiff Americold Realty Trust's shareholder's citizenship existed, diversity jurisdiction was not established). The Court notes, however, that the amended complaint alleges a new federal claim: “Discrimination in Violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” See Am. Compl., Dkt. 18, at 4-5. Perplexingly, however, in his “Jurisdiction and Venue” allegations, the plaintiff does not allege that he is seeking to invoke federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331; he cites only to the diversity jurisdiction statute - 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Under these circumstances, the Court will accept jurisdiction of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court has federal-question jurisdiction of the ADA claim, and it will accept supplemental jurisdiction of the remaining claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The parties should be aware, however, that if the Court dismisses the ADA claim, it has discretion to decline to continue to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims, given that plaintiff has not established diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).

         CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

         Having satisfied itself that jurisdiction exists, the Court will enter a Case Management Order. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the following recitation of deadlines and procedures will govern this litigation:

         1. Dispositive Motion Deadline: All dispositive motions, including motions for punitive damages, must be filed by April 26, 2019.[1]

         2. Amendment of Pleadings and Joinder of Parties: Motions to amend pleadings and join parties, except for allegations of punitive damages, must be filed on or before October 4, 2018. This deadline will only be extended for good cause shown.[2]

         3. Alternative Dispute Resolution: ADR must be held by March 29, 2019. The parties are directed to contact Wendy Messuri at ...


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