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TechINT Solutions Group, LLC v. Sasnett

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

June 17, 2019

TECHINT SOLUTIONS GROUP, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANDON SASNETT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH K. DILLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         At a June 11, 2019 hearing, the court heard argument on a number of pending motions, ruled on some of them, and took some of them under advisement. In this opinion, the court addresses two of the motions that it took under advisement: defendant Red Six LLC's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 129) and defendant Scott Crino's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 131).[1] These two defendants were added by an amended complaint; previously, the only defendant had been Brandon Sasnett. Both motions are premised on the assertion that Red Six's addition to the case destroys the court's diversity jurisdiction.

         Red Six, which is a limited liability company, has the citizenship of all of its members. Cent. W.Va. Energy Co. v. Mountain State Carbon, LLC, 636 F.3d 101, 103 (4th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff TechINT Solutions Group, LLC (TechINT) conceded at the hearing that one of Red Six's members, Conrad A. Dreby, is a Virginia citizen, thus making Red Six a citizen of Virginia, in addition to other states. Because TechINT also is a Virginia citizen, Red Six's presence in the case would destroy complete diversity, the only proffered basis for this court's subject-matter jurisdiction.

         Based on this, Red Six argues that the entire case should be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In particular, it contends that it is an indispensable party and that dismissal of the case is required. Red Six's counsel also suggested at the hearing that, alternatively, the court could dismiss Red Six and Crino and leave Sasnett as a defendant, although counsel admitted that he had no cases stating that the court had authority to dismiss a diverse party in addition to the nondiverse one.[2]

         For its part, TechINT contends that Red Six is not an indispensable party. It asserts that the court should exercise its discretion under Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and simply drop Red Six from the case and allow the remaining claims to go forward against Sasnett and Crino, both of whom are diverse from TechINT.[3] For the reasons discussed herein, the court agrees with TechINT. Thus, it will grant the motions to dismiss insofar as they seek the dismissal without prejudice of Red Six. Crino will remain as a defendant.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In broad terms (and as set forth in the allegations of the Amended Complaint), this case involves claims by an employer, TechINT, against its former employee, Sasnett, who left its employ and was immediately thereafter employed by Red Six, a customer of TechINT's. Crino is Red Six's CEO and the person who communicated with Sasnett regarding his hiring. Shortly after Sasnett's hiring by Red Six, TechINT advised Crino that Sasnett had a Services Agreement that barred him, for a term of two years after his employment with TechINT ended, from providing the same services TechINT provided to its actual clients and certain prospective clients and also barred him from soliciting TechINT employees. Even after Crino learned of that agreement and received a copy of it, Red Six continued to employ Sasnett. TechINT also argues that Red Six immediately cancelled its own purchase order with TechINT and that Red Six and Sasnett began doing work for some of TechINT's clients or prospective clients.

         The claims in the complaint are:

Count I: a breach of contract claim for breach of the Services Agreement (against Sasnett only);
Count II: tortious interference with contract and business expectancies (against all defendants);
Count III: conversion (against Sasnett only);
Count IV: conspiracy (against all defendants);
Count V: breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty (against all defendants); and
Count VI: injunctive relief enforcing the terms of Sasnett's Services Agreement and ordering all defendants to “cease any ...

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