Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co v. Whirlpool Corp
MEMORANDUM ORDER: Whirlpool must file an amended notice of removal by 11/13/2017, and state with specificity the state(s) in which Farm Bureau (1) was incorporated and (2) has its principal place of business, to meet its burden with respect to diversity. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark L Hornsby on 10/30/2017. (crt,Keifer, K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LOUISIANA FARM BUREAU MUTUAL
CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-cv-1386
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company filed suit in state court against
Whirlpool Corporation to recover amounts that Farm Bureau paid one of its insured after a
Whirlpool dryer caught fire and damaged the insured’s home. Whirlpool removed the case
based on an assertion of diversity jurisdiction, which puts the burden on Whirlpool to plead
all facts necessary to show complete diversity of citizenship.
Whirlpool describes itself as a Delaware corporation with its principal place of
business in Michigan. It asserts that Farm Bureau is “a citizen and resident of the State of
Louisiana,” citing to the introductory petition of Farm Bureau’s state court petition. That
pleading alleges that Farm Bureau is “a domestic insurance corporation authorized to do and
doing business in the State of Louisiana ...”.
Farm Bureau is alleged to be a corporation, so it is deemed to be a citizen of (1) the
state in which it was incorporated and (2) the state where it has its principal place of
business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). To establish diversity jurisdiction, a complaint or notice
of removal must set forth “with specificity” a corporate party’s state of incorporation and its
principal place of business. “Where the plaintiff [or removing party] fails to state the place
of incorporation or the principal place of business of a corporate party, the pleadings are
inadequate to establish diversity.” Joiner v. Diamond M Drilling Co., 677 F.2d 1035, 1039
(5th Cir. 1982). The Fifth Circuit requires strict adherence to these straightforward rules.
Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 919 (5th Cir. 2001).
Neither the notice of removal nor the petition appears to allege with specificity the
state in which Farm Bureau has its principal place of business. A corporation’s principal
place of business is where its high-level officers direct, control, and coordinate the
corporation’s activities. This place is sometimes described as the “nerve center” of the
corporation. Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 130 S.Ct. 1181 (2010). As for state of incorporation, the
petition implies that Farm Bureau is incorporated in Louisiana when it alleges that it is a
domestic insurance corporation, but a specific allegation of the state in which it is
incorporated will remove any doubt as to whether Whirlpool satisfied its burden.
Whirlpool, to meet its burden with respect to diversity, must file an amended notice
of removal by November 13, 2017 and state with specificity the state(s) in which Farm
Bureau (1) was incorporated and (2) has its principal place of business.
THUS DONE AND SIGNED in Shreveport, Louisiana, this 30th day of October,
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