Martin v. Valero Services, Inc. et al
ORDER AND REASONS: Granting 18 Motion to Remand to State Court. This case is REMANDED to the state court from which it was removed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The parties are not completely diverse in citizenship. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that 24 Motion to Strike is DENIED AS MOOT. Signed by Judge Jay C. Zainey on 6/2/2021. (Attachments: # 1 Remand Letter) (ajn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
VALERO SERVICES, INC., ET AL.
SECTION: "A" (2)
ORDER AND REASONS
The following motions are before the Court: Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc. 18)
filed by Plaintiff, Bridgette Martin; Motion to Strike (Rec. Doc. 24) filed by Defendant,
Valero Refining-Meraux, LLC. Both motions are opposed. The motions, submitted for
consideration on May 26, 2021, are before the Court on the briefs without oral
Plaintiff, Bridgette Martin, initiated this lawsuit in state court against Valero
Services, Inc., Valero Refining-Meraux (“Valero”), John Jacob Baltz, and Jace Raney.
The lawsuit arises out of an April 10, 2020 explosion and fire at the Valero refinery in
Chalmette, Louisiana. Plaintiff was performing her job duties on site when the explosion
occurred and she contends that she sustained serious and permanent injuries as a
result of the incident.
Valero removed the lawsuit to this Court. The cited basis for original subject
matter jurisdiction in federal court is diversity jurisdiction even though the parties are not
completely diverse in citizenship—both Plaintiff and defendant John Jacob Baltz are
Plaintiff has requested oral argument but the Court is not persuaded that oral argument would
be helpful in light of the issues presented.
Louisiana citizens. Valero’s position is that Baltz has been improperly joined and that his
citizenship should therefore be ignored for purposes of retaining the case and
exercising jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims against the remaining defendants.
Plaintiff now moves to remand the case to state court. Plaintiff argues that
diversity jurisdiction is not present in this case because Baltz destroys complete
diversity and he has not been improperly joined. The dispute surrounding Baltz’s joinder
centers on whether or not the exclusivity provision of the Louisiana Workers’
Compensation Act bar Plaintiff’s claim against Baltz, who was a co-employee
(supervisor) vis à vis Plaintiff.
Valero moves to strike Exhibit A to Plaintiff’s motion to remand. Exhibit A is
If there is at least one nondiverse defendant, there is no federal diversity
jurisdiction. Int'l Energy Ventures Mgmt., L.L.C. v. United Energy Grp., Ltd., 818 F.3d
193, 202 (5th Cir. 2016). Joinder of a non-diverse party is improper if there is no
reasonable basis to predict that the plaintiff might be able to recover against that party.
Larroquette v. Cardinal Health 200, Inc., 466 F.3d 373, 374 (5th Cir. 2006). Improper
joinder may be established where the Workers’ Compensation Act bars recovery. See
But § 23:1032(B) of the Act carves out an exception to exclusivity where an
employer’s (including another employee’s) intentional act injures the plaintiff.
Importantly, in this context “intent” or “intentional” means that the person either 1)
consciously desires the physical result of his act, whatever the likelihood of that result
happening from his conduct, or 2) knows that the result is substantially certain to follow
from his conduct, whatever his desire may be as to that result. Id. (quoting Cole v. State
Dep’t of Pub. Safety & Correct., 825 So. 2d 1134, 1140 (La. 2002)); Bazley v. Tortorich,
397 So. 2d 475, 481 (La. 1981). Plaintiff’s position is that this case involves the second
type of intent.
While Valero correctly characterizes the intentional tort exception to be a narrow
one, the Court nonetheless agrees with Plaintiff’s contentions regarding the sufficiency
of her pleadings insofar as the intentional tort exception applies to this case. Further,
even assuming arguendo that Valero had established on the pleadings alone that the
Workers’ Compensation exclusivity provision applied to bar the claims against Baltz, the
removal in this case remains problematic because all of the defendants in this case
have been sued under the intentional tort exception to exclusivity. At this juncture
Valero has focused only on Baltz because he is the only defendant destroying diversity
jurisdiction but all of the defendants are claiming Worker’s Compensation immunity in
this case. (Rec. Doc. 6, Valero-Meraux, LLC Affirmative Defenses ¶ 3); (Rec. Doc. 8,
Valero Services, Inc. Affirmative Defenses ¶ 3); (Rec .Doc. 10, Jace Raney Affirmative
Defenses ¶ 3); (Rec. Doc. 27, Opposition at 8 n.11). And based on the case presented
in the pleadings, if the exclusivity provision applies at all it will apply uniformly to all of
the defendants. But the law in this circuit is that there is no improper joinder where the
non-resident’s showing that there is no reasonable basis for recovery against the instate defendant equally disposes of all defendants. Boone v. Citigroup, Inc., 416 F.3d
382, 389 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Smallwood v. Illinois Cent. R.R., 385 F.3d 568, 571 (5th
In sum, the Court is persuaded that the motion to remand should be granted
because the doctrine of improper joinder does not apply in this case to allow for
IT IS ORDERED that the Motion to Remand (Rec. Doc. 18) filed by the plaintiff,
Bridgette Martin is GRANTED. This case is REMANDED to the state court from which it
was removed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The parties are not completely
diverse in citizenship.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion to Strike (Rec. Doc. 24) filed by
Defendant, Valero Refining-Meraux, LLC is DENIED AS MOOT.
June 2, 2021
JAY C. ZAINEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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