Ojo v. Clarks Summit Hospitality,LLC et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 6 Amended Complaint filed by Eunice Ojo.Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 7/7/17. (jam)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
EUNICE OJO, Administratrix of THE
ESTATE OF EMMANUEL OJO,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:17-cv-01064
CLARKS SUMMIT HOSPITALITY, LLC
d/b/a NICHOLS VILLAGE HOTEL AND
SPA, and NICHOLS VILLAGE MOTOR
INN, INC. d/b/a THE INN AT NICHOLS
Presently before the Court is an Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Eunice Ojo,
Administratrix of the Estate of Emmanuel Ojo. (Doc. 6.) Because the Amended Complaint
again fails to establish that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action, it will be
dismissed unless Plaintiff can show that diversity jurisdiction is proper.
Plaintiff commenced this action on June 16, 2017. (Doc. 1.) On June 22, 2017, the
Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an Amended Complaint which properly pleaded the
existence of subject matter jurisdiction. (Docs. 3 & 4.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint
on July 6, 2017, naming as Defendants Clarks Summit Hospitality, LLC d/b/a Nichols Village
Hotel and Spa, and Nichols Village Motor Inn, Inc. d/b/a The Inn at Nichols Village.1 (Am.
Plaintiff also filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal, dismissing without prejudice
Hospitality Cover Plus, LLC d/b/a The Inn at Nichols Village, which had been
Compl., Doc. 6.) Plaintiff alleges that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), “based upon diversity of citizenship.” (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff
also asserts that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. (Id. ¶ 9.) With respect to the
citizenship of Defendant Nichols Village Motor Inn, Inc. d/b/a The Inn at Nichols Village, the
relevant allegation in the Amended Complaint is that “Nichols Village Motor Inn, Inc. is a
business entity regularly conducting business as The Inn at Nichols Village and registered
in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to do business at RD 1, Clarks Summit, Lackawanna
County, Pennsylvania 18411 with a principal place of business at 1100 Northern Blvd., Clarks
Summit, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania 18411.” (Id. ¶ 6.)
Federal courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte. See Shaffer v. GTE N., Inc., 284 F.3d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Club
Comanche, Inc. v. Gov't of the V.I., 278 F.3d 250, 255 (3d Cir. 2002)). Plaintiff’s Amended
Complaint alleges that the Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Section
1332(a)(1) gives district courts original jurisdiction to hear cases where the matter in
controversy exceeds the value of seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) and is between
citizens of different states. In order for diversity jurisdiction to exist, there must be complete
diversity, meaning that each defendant must be a citizen of a different state from each
plaintiff. Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978). Of course, “[t]he
person asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of showing that the case is properly before the
court at all stages of the litigation.” Packard v. Provident Nat'l Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1045 (3d
named as a Defendant in the original Complaint. (Doc. 5.)
Cir. 1993). “It is . . . well established that when jurisdiction depends upon diverse citizenship
the absence of sufficient averments or of facts in the record showing such required diversity
of citizenship is fatal and cannot be overlooked by the court, even if the parties fail to call
attention to the defect, or consent that it may be waived.” Thomas v. Bd. of Trs. of Ohio State
Univ., 195 U.S. 207, 211 (1904). Moreover, “[w]hen the foundation of federal authority is, in
a particular instance, open to question, it is incumbent upon the courts to resolve such
doubts, one way or the other, before proceeding to a disposition of the merits.” Carlsberg
Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir. 1977); see also Fed
R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
Citizenship of Defendant Nichols Village Motor Inn, Inc. d/b/a The Inn at Nichols
Although Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint cures some of the jurisdictional defects
contained in the original Complaint, the Amended Complaint still fails to correctly plead the
citizenship of Defendant Nichols Village Motor Inn, Inc. d/b/a The Inn at Nichols Village. As
this Defendant is alleged to be a corporation, in order to properly plead diverse citizenship,
Plaintiff must allege both the Defendant’s principal place of business and state of
incorporation. See VICI Racing, LLC v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 763 F.3d 273, 282 (3d Cir. 2014).
The Amended Complaint states that this Defendant is “a business entity regularly
conducting business as The Inn at Nichols Village and registered in the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania to do business at RD 1, Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
18411 with a principal place of business at 1100 Northern Blvd., Clarks Summit, Lackawanna
County, Pennsylvania 18411.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 6.) This is not sufficient. While Plaintiff
adequately pleads the Defendant’s principal place of business, Plaintiff omits any allegation
concerning the Defendant’s state of incorporation. The allegation that the Defendant is
registered to do business in Pennsylvania is not equivalent to an allegation that the
Defendant is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. See Randazzo v.
Eagle-Picher Indus., Inc., 117 F.R.D. 557, 558 (E.D. Pa. 1987); see also U.S. Foodserv., Inc.
v. Long Island Rest., LLC, No. 3:06-cv-1293, 2008 WL 144217, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 11,
2008) (“Plaintiff is registered to do business in New York, but is not incorporated in that
state.”) Accordingly, because Plaintiff fails to adequately plead this Defendant’s state of
incorporation, the Court cannot determine whether complete diversity exists in this case.
Because the Court cannot determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists, this
matter is subject to dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3). However,
Plaintiff will be given another opportunity to amend and show that diversity jurisdiction exists.
Plaintiff will be granted seven (7) days in which to file a second amended complaint. Failure
to do so will result in this action being dismissed.
An appropriate order follows.
July 7, 2017
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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