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Dejesus v. Mohammad

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 22, 2014

RICHARDO DeJESUS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. SHAKIL MOHAMMAD, M.D., et al., Defendants.

Conrad J. Benedetto, Esquire, Law Offices of Conrad J. Benedetto, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Attorney for Plaintiff Richardo DeJesus.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of Plaintiff Richardo DeJesus' third motion [Doc. No. 13] seeking to reinstate this matter based on the proposed fourth amended complaint, attached as Exhibit A to Plaintiff's motion. The Court has considered Plaintiff's motion, reviewed the proposed fourth amended complaint and decides this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

For the reasons expressed below, Plaintiff's motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed the original complaint [Doc. No. 1] in this action on November 12, 2012, asserting that the Court could properly exercise jurisdiction in this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on the diversity of citizenship of the parties and an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000. (Compl. [Doc. No. 1] ¶ A.) Upon review of Plaintiff's original complaint, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause on November 15, 2012 outlining various pleading deficiencies with respect to the citizenship of several Defendants such that the original complaint did not allege sufficient facts to establish complete diversity of citizenship existed between the parties. (Order to Show Cause [Doc. No. 3] 2-4, Nov. 15, 2012.) The November 15, 2012 Order to Show Cause specifically set forth the requirements for properly pleading the citizenship of the parties in order to correct these pleading errors and further directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint within ten days or face dismissal of the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Id. at 2-5.)

In response to the November 15, 2012 Order to Show Cause, Plaintiff filed an untimely amended complaint [Doc. No. 4] on November 27, 2012, one day after the time provided for by the Order to Show Cause. Despite its untimely nature, the Court reviewed Plaintiff's amended complaint and issued a second Order to Show Cause ("OTSC No. 2") on December 4, 2012. OTCS No. 2 set forth additional pleading deficiencies contained in the amended complaint regarding the citizenship of three Defendants and noted that Plaintiff had again failed to establish the requisite diversity of citizenship between the parties. (Order to Show Cause [Doc. No. 5] 2-6, Dec. 4, 2012.) As with the original deficient complaint, rather than dismiss the deficient amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint within ten days. (Id. at 6-7.)

Pursuant to OTSC No. 2, Plaintiff was required to file a second amended complaint by December 14, 2012. Plaintiff failed to file the second amended complaint, or to seek an extension of this deadline, within the time provided by OTSC No. 2. Therefore, approximately one week after the deadline for filing Plaintiff's second amended complaint expired, the Court entered an Order dismissing Plaintiff's case without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Order [Doc. No. 6] 1, Dec. 21, 2012.) Six days later, Plaintiff filed his first motion to reinstate the complaint. (Pl.'s First Mot. to Reinstate the Compl. [Doc. No. 7].) Attached as Exhibit A to the motion was a copy of Plaintiff's proposed second amended complaint. The Court subsequently denied Plaintiff's first motion to reinstate the complaint by Opinion and Order dated January 10, 2013 based on continued pleading deficiencies. (Op. and Order [Doc. Nos. 8, 9] Jan. 10, 2013.) As noted in the January 10, 2013 Opinion, the proposed second amended complaint attached as Exhibit A to the first motion was "actually an identical version of the Amended Complaint which Plaintiff filed on November 27, 2012." (Op. [Doc. No. 8] 7, Jan. 10, 2013.) That is, the proposed second amended complaint attached to Plaintiff's motion was "the exact same document previously filed with the Court over a month [before] and [contained] the exact same pleading deficiencies regarding diversity jurisdiction." (Id. at 8.) As a result, the Court denied Plaintiff's first motion to reinstate the complaint.

Approximately four months later, Plaintiff filed a second motion [Doc. No. 10] to reinstate the complaint. Attached as Exhibit A to the second motion to reinstate was a proposed third amended complaint. By Opinion and Order dated November 7, 2013, the Court denied Plaintiff's second motion to reinstate without prejudice. (Op. and Order [Doc. Nos. 11, 12] Nov. 7, 2013.) Construing Plaintiff's motion as one seeking to vacate the dismissal of the compliant pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), the Court concluded that Plaintiff's failure to timely file a second amended complaint in accordance with OTSC No. 2 constituted excusable neglect under the standard governing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1). (Op. [Doc. No. 11] 7-10, Nov. 7, 2013.) Although Plaintiff's proffered reasons for failing to timely comply with OTCS II were unpersuasive, the Court found that the totality of the circumstances nonetheless weighed in favor of granting Plaintiff's motion to reinstate the complaint. (Id. at 10.) However, the Court was forced to deny Plaintiff's motion to reinstate on other grounds because Plaintiff still neglected to properly plead diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. (Id. at 10.)

Specifically, Plaintiff failed to correctly set forth the citizenship of Defendant Westfield Medical Center, L.P. (Id. at 11.) While the proposed third amended complaint indicated that Westfield Medical Center is a limited partnership and listed the citizenship of its general partner, WMC, Inc. - a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania - the Court noted that this information alone was insufficient. (Id. at 11.) In order to determine the citizenship of partnerships, the proposed third amended complaint needed to set forth "the citizenship of all of [the partnership's] partners, not just the general partners." See Swiger v. Allegheny Energy, Inc., 540 F.3d 179, 187 (3d Cir. 2008). Moreover, partnerships are defined as entities consisting of at least "two or more persons." Kramer v. Scientific Control Corp., 534 F.2d 1085, 1092 n.15 (3d Cir. 1976). Therefore, the Court concluded that Plaintiff's assertion that WMC, Inc. was the "only listed partner of Westfield Medical Center, L.P., " was not adequate to establish the citizenship of Defendant Westfield Medical Center, L.P. for jurisdictional purposes because Plaintiff failed to make any factual averments as to the identity and citizenship of the limited partners of this Defendant.

Approximately forty days later, Plaintiff filed a third motion to reinstate the complaint, which is currently before the Court. Attached as Exhibit A to the present motion is a copy of Plaintiff's proposed fourth amended complaint.

II. ANALYSIS

Much like the second motion to reinstate the complaint, Plaintiff's current motion again fails to specify the authority under which he seeks relief from the prior termination of his case. However, as with the second motion, the Court again construes Plaintiff's third motion to reinstate as one attempting to vacate the dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).

As previously set forth in the Court's November 7, 2013 Opinion, a motion to reopen a case may be treated as a motion for relief from a final judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) or as a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 59(e) and Local Civil Rule 7.1(i). Choi v. Kim, 258 F.Appx. 413, 414-15 (3d Cir. 2007). Motions made pursuant to Rule 60 "must be made within a reasonable time... [and for motions made under subsections] (1) (2) and (3) no more than a year after the entry of the judgment." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b). Here, the docket reflects that Plaintiff's third motion to reinstate was filed within one year of the Court's November 7, 2013 Opinion and Order, and given that Plaintiff failed to file the motion within fourteen days of ...


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