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Cail v. Joe Ryan Enterprises, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

November 4, 2014

DANNY CAIL, Husband and Administrator of the Estate of Teresa Cail, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
JOE RYAN ENTERPRISES, INC., et al., Defendants

For Danny Cail, husband and administrator of the estate of Teresa Cail, deceased, Plaintiff: Benjamin E. Baker, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Beasley Allen Crown Methvin Portis & Miles PC, Montgomery, AL; Larry Shane Seaborn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Penn and Seaborn, LLC, Clayton, AL; William Jennings Benton, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Benton & Benton, Phenix City, AL.

For Joe Ryan Enterprises, Inc., a foreign corporation and doing business as Joe Ryan Trucking, Defendant: Alan Thomas Hargrove, Jr., Jessica Pitts Trotman, R. Austin Huffaker, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEYS, Rushton Stakely Johnston & Garrett PA, Montgomery, AL.

For Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, doing business as Firestone, Defendants: Hillary Lynn Chinigo, Hope Thai Cannon, Kenneth Martin Perry, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Birmingham, AL.

Page 1289

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

W. Keith Watkins, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This wrongful-death action arrived here after removal from the Circuit Court of Russell County, Alabama, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1332(a), 1441, and 1446(b). Pending is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand, which hinges solely on whether Defendant Joe Ryan Enterprises, Inc.'s principal place of business is in Georgia or in Alabama. (Doc. # 11.) If it is in Alabama, as Plaintiff contends, this action must proceed in the Alabama state court where it commenced.

Page 1290

If Joe Ryan Enterprises, Inc.'s principal place of business is across the border in Georgia, as Defendants argue, diversity jurisdiction is proper.

The court allowed limited jurisdictional discovery, and the parties submitted supplemental briefing. The motion to remand is ready for resolution. Applying the nerve-center test adopted by the Supreme Court in Hertz Corporation v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 130 S.Ct. 1181, 175 L.Ed.2d 1029 (2010), the court finds that Defendants have not met their burden of showing that Joe Ryan's principal place of business is not in Alabama. Accordingly, there is not complete diversity of citizenship, and Plaintiff's motion to remand is due to be granted.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal courts have a strict duty to exercise the jurisdiction conferred on them by Congress. Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716, 116 S.Ct. 1712, 135 L.Ed.2d 1 (1996). At the same time, " [f]ederal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction." Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994). Hence, in actions removed from state court to federal court, federal courts strictly construe removal statutes, resolve all doubts in favor of remand, and place the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction on the defendant. Miedema v. Maytag Corp., 450 F.3d 1322, 1328-30 (11th Cir. 2006).

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's wife, Teresa Cail, died on March 8, 2013, while operating a 2005 Mack 700 truck as a contract driver for Defendant Joe Ryan Enterprises, Inc. (" Joe Ryan" ). Plaintiff alleges that tire tread separation caused the accident that killed Mrs. Cail. As the widower and administrator of the estate of Mrs. Cail, Plaintiff commenced this action in the Circuit Court of Russell County, Alabama, against the tire's manufacturer and Joe Ryan. Plaintiff alleges that Joe Ryan was responsible for the maintenance and service of the tire and the truck.

Joe Ryan, incorporated in Georgia in 1985, is a " heavy hauling and trucking business" with approximately thirty employees, thirty trucks, and twelve customers. (Doc. # 105.) The company has two officers and directors: Norbert Quick, the president and chief executive officer (" CEO" ); and Diane Quick, ...


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