Petite v. Lyft, Inc. et al
ORDERED: Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion to Remand 9 is GRANTED. This case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida. The Clerk is directed to send a certified copy of this Order to the Clerk of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida. The Clerk is further directed to terminate any pending motions and deadlines and CLOSE this case. Signed by Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on 5/22/2023. (JDE)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CAREN D. PETITE,
Case No: 8:23-cv-939-CEH-SPF
LYFT, INC. and JOHN DOE,
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Caren Petite’s Unopposed
Motion to Remand (Doc. 9), filed on May 19, 2023. In the motion, Plaintiff requests
the Court remand this action to state court for lack of diversity jurisdiction. Defendant,
Lyft, Inc., does not object to the relief requested. The Court, having considered the
motion and being fully advised in the premises, will grant Plaintiff’s Unopposed
Motion to Remand.
“The jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter of a claim involves the
court’s competency to consider a given type of case, and cannot be waived or otherwise
conferred upon the court by the parties.” Jackson v. Seaboard Coast Line R.R. Co., 678
F.2d 992, 1000 (11th Cir. 1982). “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.”
Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999). And “once a
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federal court determines that it is without subject matter jurisdiction, the court is
powerless to continue.” Id. at 410.
Diversity jurisdiction exists where the suit is between citizens of different states
and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1)-(3). For
diversity jurisdiction to exist under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, each defendant must be diverse
from each plaintiff. See Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 377 (1978)
(“Congress has established the basic rule that diversity jurisdiction exists under 28
U.S.C. § 1332 only when there is complete diversity of citizenship.”).
In her initial Complaint, Plaintiff sued Lyft, Inc. and Lyft’s unknown driver,
“John Doe.” In general, fictitious party pleading is not permitted in federal court
unless the “plaintiff’s description of the defendant is so specific as to be ‘at the very
worst, surplusage.’” Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 738 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1215–16 (11th Cir. 1992)). On April 28, 2023,
Defendant Lyft, a citizen of Delaware and California, removed the case to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), on the basis of diversity of citizenship.
In her unopposed motion to remand, Plaintiff represents that the Lyft driver,
who is now known, is a Florida citizen, thereby destroying diversity of citizenship as
Plaintiff is also a Florida citizen. Plaintiff intends to seek leave to amend her
Complaint to name the non-diverse Lyft driver and drop Lyft as a party Defendant.
Doc. 9 at 2; Doc. 9-2.
“Congress has given district courts broad discretion to decide whether, after
removal, to permit joinder of a new defendant who would destroy diversity: ‘[i]f after
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removal the plaintiff seeks to join additional defendants whose joinder would destroy
subject matter jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or permit joinder and remand
the action to the State court.’” Dever v. Family Dollar Stores of Ga., LLC, 755 F. App’x
866, 869 (11th Cir. 2018) (per curiam) (alteration in original) (quoting 28 U.S.C.
§1447(e)). In general, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, liberally, permit a plaintiff
to join a new defendant. Id. Indeed, district courts should “freely give leave” to amend
complaints under Rule 15, and Rule 20 permits joinder of proper parties. Fed. R. Civ.
P. 15(a), 20. Typically, in such situations where a Plaintiff names a new non-diverse
defendant in a removed case, courts should closely scrutinize the pleading using the
Hensgens factors. See Reyes v. BJ’s Rests., Inc., 774 F. App’x 514, 517 (11th Cir. 2019)
(applying the Hensgens factors).1
However, here, Plaintiff has not yet sought leave to amend her Complaint, and
Defendant does not oppose remand to state court. Thus, the Court need not engage in
an analysis of the Hensgens factors.
In Hensgens, the court stated as follows:
[J]ustice requires that the district court consider a number of
factors to balance the defendant’s interests in maintaining the
federal forum with the competing interests of not having parallel
lawsuits. For example, the court should consider the extent to
which the purpose of the amendment is to defeat federal
jurisdiction, whether plaintiff has been dilatory in asking for
amendment, whether plaintiff will be significantly injured if
amendment is not allowed, and any other factors bearing on the
equities. The district court, with input from the defendant,
should then balance the equities and decide whether amendment
should be permitted.
Hensgens v. Deere & Co., 833 F.2d 1179, 1182 (5th Cir. 1987).
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Accordingly, it is hereby
Plaintiff’s Unopposed Motion to Remand (Doc. 9) is GRANTED.
This case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial
Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida.
The Clerk is directed to send a certified copy of this Order to the Clerk of
the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas County, Florida.
The Clerk is further directed to terminate any pending motions and
deadlines and CLOSE this case.
DONE AND ORDERED in Tampa, Florida on May 22, 2023.
Counsel of Record and Unrepresented Parties, if any
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