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A.E. v. Ashford Gateway TRS Corporation Group, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

November 21, 2018

A.E., et al., an infant, by and through Linda Everett, her mother and next friend, Plaintiffs,


          M. Hannah Lauck District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on three motions:[1] Defendant Cabling Solutions of Rutherford County, LLC's ("Cabling Solutions") Motion to Transfer Case ("Cabling Solutions's Motion to Transfer"), (ECF No. 2); Defendant Humphrey Rich Construction Group, Inc.'s ("Humphrey") Motion to Transfer Case ("Humphrey's Motion to Transfer"), (ECF No. 13); and Defendant Marriott Hotel Services, Inc.'s ("Marriott") Motion to Change Venue ("Marriott's Motion to Transfer"), (ECF No. 21) (collectively, the "Motions to Transfer"). Plaintiffs A.E.[2]and Linda Everett (collectively, "Plaintiffs") did not respond to the Motions to Transfer and the time to do so has expired.

         Accordingly, the matter is ripe for disposition. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. The Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[3] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motions to Transfer.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs bring this personal injury action against Defendants[4] for damages A.E. sustained while attending an event at a Marriott hotel, in Arlington, Virginia. (Compl. ¶¶ 12, 23-24, ECF No. 1-1.) On August 31, 2014, A.E. "and her family were invitees and guests of the [Marriott hotel] and attending a family reunion with her grandparents which was held inside of the hotel's ballroom." (Compl. ¶ 23, ECF No. 1-1.) Plaintiffs allege that "[unexpectedly and without warning, a large piece of a light fixture inside of the ballroom fell from the ceiling directly above [A.E.], striking her in the head." (Id. ¶ 24.) As a result, A.E. "suffered severe injuries to her head, including a depressed skull fracture, exposing brain matter." (Id. ¶ 26.)

         Plaintiffs allege that, prior to this incident, Defendants "all participated in the design, installation, and/or inspection of the ballroom modifications" as part of a significant renovation project. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiffs aver that "the design, installation[, ] and inspection of the lighting fixtures [were] negligent and in disregard for the safety of [A.E.]." (Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiffs elaborate:

Defendants knew that there would be large gatherings of people congregating under these lighting fixtures[, ] creating a heightened duty to make sure that the renovations were performed properly and resulted in a safe environment. Despite this heightened duty, Defendants proceeded with a negligent decision to hang large, heavy blocks of Plexiglas held up by minimal fasteners, with no framework or other supporting structure Defendants had complete control over this process from design, through installation, inspections[J and repair.

(Id. ¶ 21.) Plaintiffs also claim that, two days prior to the incident giving rise to the injuries, Cabling Solutions removed "the lenses in the ballroom's lighting in order to gain access to work above the ceiling, negligently reinstalling them without properly securing them." (Id. ¶ 22.)

         A.E. alleges various damages, including: serious and severe bodily injuries, ongoing physical and mental impairment, impairment on her enjoyment of life, loss of future earnings and earning capacity, and ongoing expenses related to treating her injuries and educational tutoring. Linda Everett, as A.E.'s mother and legal guardian, "has been caused to lose the services of her daughter and has been compelled to expend large sums of money for medical and hospital services." (Compl. ¶ 29.) Plaintiffs seek $ 15, 000, 000, plus interest and costs, and other relief that the Court may deem appropriate.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs filed the Complaint in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond (the "Richmond Circuit Court"). Cabling Solutions waived service of process and filed an Answer on September 21, 2018. (Notice Removal ¶ 2, ECF No. 1.) On September 24, 2018, before any other defendant was served, Cabling Solutions removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441[5] and 1332. On September 28, 2018, Cabling Solutions filed Cabling Solutions's Motion to Transfer. Plaintiffs did not respond and the time to do so has expired.

         On October 19, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the Motion to Remand. Cabling Solutions and Ashford opposed the Motion to Remand. (ECF Nos. 25, 34.) Plaintiffs replied to Cabling Solutions's opposition, but did not reply to Ashford's opposition.

         On October 26, 2018, Humphrey Rich Construction Group, Inc. filed Humphrey's Motion to Transfer, to which Plaintiffs did not respond. On October 29, 2018, Marriott filed ...

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