United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
GLENN S. SMITH, Plaintiff,
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
COKE MORGAN, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Glen S. Smith's
("Plaintiff) Motion to Remand. Doc. 7. On November 20,
2019. the Court held a hearing on the Motion. Doc. 13. After
oral argument, the Court required further briefing and
documentation to rule on Plaintiffs Motion. The Court ORDERED
the Defendants to file a copy of the legal title to the
vehicle operated by Defendant Carrie Field on the day of the
accident. Doc. 15. Additionally, the Court ORDERED the
parties to file a three (3) page brief addressing the
1. In Virginia, what is the proper legal status of a business
a. Is properly incorporated in a foreign jurisdiction; and
b. Is improperly registered to do business under its foreign
incorporated name in Virginia.
Id. The parties have filed the required documents
and briefs. The Motion is now ripe for disposition by the
Court. For the reasons stated herein, the Plaintiffs Motion
to Remand is GRANTED.
current action arises out of automobile collision that
occurred on June 30, 2018. Pl. Mem., Doc 8 at 1. One of the
Defendants, Carrie Field, was operating a vehicle that
collided with the Plaintiff causing serious injuries to the
Plaintiff and fatal injuries to the Plaintiffs passenger.
Id. at 2. Field was operating the vehicle at the
time as an agent of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints ("LDS Church"), Corporation of the Presiding
Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
("Presiding Bishop") and Corporation of the
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
("President"). Id. see Def's Answer,
Doc. 3 at ¶ 6 (admitting that Field was an
agent/employee and operating within the scope of her
employment for all three entities at the lime of the
MOTION TO REMAND
28 of the United States Code, Section 1441(a) provides that
"any 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 the
defendants...."' 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (a). The
burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is upon the party
seeking removal. Mulcahey v. Columbia Ornanic Chems.
Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Wilson
v. Republic Iron & Steel Co., 257 U.S. 92, 97
(1921)). When analyzing a motion to remand, significant
federalism concerns require the court to construe the removal
statute strictly against removal into federal court.
Venezuela v. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Inc., 525
F.Supp.2d 781, 784 (B.D. Va. 2007). Therefore, "[i]f
federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is
necessary." Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151.
general rule is that a defendant may remove a state court
action to federal court only if it originally could have been
filed by the plaintiff in federal court. Caterpillar Inc.
v. Williams. 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441). But if the jurisdiction for the action is
predicated on diversity jurisdiction, the "action shall
be removable only if none of the parties in interest properly
joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in
which such action is brought." Sanders v. Medtronic.
Inc., No. 4:06cv57, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45516, at *5
(E.D. Va. June 26, 2006) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)).
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), the Court has original
jurisdiction over all civil actions where the matter in
controversy exceeds §75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). Federal Diversity Jurisdiction under §
1332, "requires complete diversity among the parties,
meaning the citizenship of each plaintiff must be different
from the citizenship of each defendant." Hoschar v.
Appalachian Power Co., 739 F.3d 163. 170 (4th Cir. 2014)
Additionally, "when diversity of citizenship is a basis
of removal jurisdiction, it must exist both at the time the
original action is filed in the state court and at the time
the removal is sought." Hubbard v. Tripp, 611
F.Supp. 895, 896 (E.D. Va. 1985) (quoting 14A Charles Alan
Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure.
Jurisdiction 2d § 3723 (1985)) (internal quotation
marks omitted). "For purposes of diversity jurisdiction,
'a corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of every
State ... by which it has been incorporated and of the State
. . . where it has its principal place of
business.'" Hoschar, 739 F.3d at 170
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1)). This dual citizenship
rule has been strictly limited to only "true-blue
corporations." Hawkins v. i-TV Digitalis Tavkozlesi
zrt., 935 F.3d 211, 223 (4th Cir. 2019) (citing
Carden v. Arkoma Assocs., 494 U.S. 185, 187-89, 196
(1990)). Therefore, "other business entities, such as a
partnership, is treated as an unincorporated association,
which has the citizenship of each of its members."
Id. (citing Carden, 494 U.S. at
189). This framework applies to both religious
and secular entities. See U.S. Fire Ins. Co. v. United
Church of Christ, 410 F.Supp.2d 637, 638 (N.D. Ohio
avers that Presiding Bishop and President are foreign
corporations incorporated in Utah and that the individual LDS
Church located in Portsmouth, Virginia is either a
corporation organized within the Commonwealth of Virginia or
an unincorporated association. See Doc. 8 at 2 (citing to the
Complaint noting that "LDS Church is a corporation
organized within the Commonwealth.") see alsoId. (noting the "LDS Church location operates
in Virginia as an unincorporated association"). For
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, if LDS Church is an
unincorporated association then it, has the imputed
citizenship of each one of its members. Doc. 8 at 6.
Plaintiff highlights that the full name of the Portsmouth
location, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints" is not registered at the time of removal
"in any fashion" as an autonomous entity with the
Virginia State Corporation Commission ("Virginia
SCC").Id. at 3. The Defendants'
counter that Corporation of the Presiding Bishop officially
changed its name to "The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints" in Utah on June 27, 2019. But the
record illustrates that this change was not accepted by the
Virginia SCC until August 29. 2019. Id. at 3; Doc.
16. Because of the lack of registration with the Virginia
SCC, the LDS location in Portsmouth is averred to have
"operated, at all relevant ...