United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
Hannah Lauck United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Rachel
Myrick's Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 15.) Defendants RARE
Hospitality International, Inc. ("RARE"), FCPT
Hospitality Properties, LLC ("FCPT"), and Darden
Restaurants, Inc. ("Darden") (collectively, the
"Restaurant Defendants") responded, (ECF No. 24),
and Myrick replied, (ECF No. 25). Myrick's Complaint,
(ECF No. 1-2), also brings claims against Southpoint II, LLC
("Southpoint"), W.J. Vakos & Company
("Vakos"), WJ. Vakos Management Company
("Vakos Management") (collectively, the
"Developer Defendants"), and Kevin Linton.
materials before the Court adequately present the facts and
legal contentions, and oral argument would not aid the
decisional process. Accordingly, the matter is ripe for
disposition. For the reasons stated below, the Court will
grant the Motion to Remand.
Standard of Review
Removal Jurisdiction & Remand
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a),  a defendant may remove a civil action
to a federal district court if the plaintiff could have
originally brought the action in federal court. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). Section 1446 delineates the procedure for
removal. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1446(a), (d).
The state court loses jurisdiction upon the removal of an
action to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(d)
("[T]he State court shall proceed no further unless and
until the case is remanded."). The removability of a
case "depends upon the state of the pleadings and the
record at the time of the application for removal"
Ala. Great S. Ry. Co. v. Thompson, 200 U.S. 206, 216
(1906); see also Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305 U.S.
534, 537 (1939) ("the right to remove... [is] determined
according to the plaintiffs' pleading at the time of the
petition for removal."). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c),
"[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
party seeking removal bears the initial burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction." Abraham v.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., No. 3:11cv182,
2011 WL 1790168, at *1 (E.D. Va. May 9, 2011) (citing
Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chem. Co., 29 F.3d 148,
151 (4th Cir. 1994)). No presumption favoring the existence
of federal subject matter jurisdiction exists because federal
courts have limited, not general, jurisdiction. Id.
(citing Pinkley Inc. v. City of Frederick, 191 F.3d
394, 399 (4th Cir. 1999)). In deference to federalism
concerns, courts must strictly construe removal jurisdiction.
Id. (citing Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151).
"If federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is
necessary." Id. (quoting Mulcahey, 29
F.3d at 151).
federal district court has diversity jurisdiction over
"all civil actions where the matter in controversy
exceeds... $75, 000... and is between... [c]itizens of
different states." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Federal
diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity of
citizenship. Abraham, 2011 WL 1790168 at *2 (citing
Carden v. Arkoma Assocs., 494 U.S. 185, 187 (1990));
see also 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). "[T]he
'citizenship of each plaintiff [must be] diverse from the
citizenship of each defendant.'" Abraham,
2011 WL 1790168, at *2 (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v.
Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996) (second alteration in
The Fraudulent Joinder Doctrine
fraudulent joinder doctrine operates as an exception to the
complete diversity requirement, permitting a district court
to disregard, for jurisdictional purposes, the citizenship of
certain nondiverse defendants, assume jurisdiction over a
case, and dismiss the nondiverse defendants, thereby
retaining jurisdiction. Abraham, 2011 WL 1790168, at
*2 (citing Mayes v. Rapoport, 198 F.3d 457, 461 (4th
Cir. 1999)). "To show fraudulent joinder, the removing
party must demonstrate either 'outright fraud in the
plaintiffs pleading of jurisdictional facts' or that
'there is no possibility that the plaintiff
would be able to establish a cause of action against the
in-state defendant in state court.'" Hartley v.
CSX Transp., Inc., 187 F.3d 422, 424 (4th Cir. 1999)
(alteration in original) (quoting Marshall v. Manville
Sales Corp., 6 F.3d 229, 232 (4th Cir. 1993)). "The
party alleging fraudulent joinder bears a heavy burden - it
must show that the plaintiff cannot establish a claim even
after resolving all issues of law and fact in the plaintiffs
favor." Id. "This standard is even more
favorable to the plaintiff than the standard for ruling on a
motion to dismiss under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure]
12(b)(6)." Id. "Once the court identifies
this glimmer of hope for the plaintiff, the jurisdictional
inquiry ends." Id. at 426; see also Allard
v. Laroya, 163 F.Supp.3d 309, 311 (E.D. Va. 2016). In
making this determination, the Court is not bound by the
allegations in the pleadings, but may consider the entire
record. Mayes, 198 F.3dat464.
Factual and Procedural Background
10, 2019, Myrick filed the Complaint in the Circuit Court of
the County of Henrico, Virginia (the "Henrico Circuit
Court"), seeking damages for personal injuries pursuant
to state law negligence claims. Myrick served all Defendants,
last serving Darden on July 26, 2019. (Not. Removal.
¶¶ 2-4.) The Defendants filed various responsive in
the Henrico Circuit Court. On August 20, 2019, the Restaurant
Defendants timely removed this action from the Henrico
Circuit Court to this Court, claiming diversity jurisdiction
and that the Restaurant Defendants and Linton were
fraudulently joined. (ECF No. 1.)
September 3, 2019, Myrick filed the instant Motion to Remand,
claiming that full diversity does not exist because she, the
Developer Defendants, and Linton are citizens of Virginia. On
September 17, 2019, the Restaurant Defendants responded in
opposition to the Motion to Remand. On September 20, 2019,
Summary of Allegations in ...