United States District Court, D. New Jersey
BENJAMIN KAPLAN MATTHEW ADAM GREEN OBERMAYER REBMANN MAXWELL
& HIPPEL LLP On behalf of Plaintiff
E. CHEWNING ARCHER & GREINER, PC ONE CENTENNIAL SQUARE
FRANK P. TRAPANI, KREHER & TRAPANI LLP On behalf of
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand the
matter to state court. Also pending is Defendant Metro Corp.
Holdings, Inc.'s motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction. As set forth below, Plaintiff's motion will
be granted, and Defendant's motion will be denied as
October 4, 2018, Plaintiff, Carol Lipson filed a complaint in
New Jersey Superior Court, Atlantic County, against
Defendants Metro Corp. Holdings, Inc., the Estate of D.
Herbert Lipson (“Herb Lipson”), and the four
co-executors of Herbert Lipson's estate. Plaintiff was
Herb Lipson's spouse, Metro Corp. was Herb Lipson's
company, and three of the four co-executors of Herb
Lipson's estate are his children from a prior marriage.
November 2, 2018, Metro Corp. removed the action to this
Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) based on diversity
of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Plaintiff
is a citizen of New Jersey. Defendant Metro Corp. is a
citizen of Pennsylvania. The other five Defendants are
citizens of New Jersey.
the lack of diversity between Plaintiff and five of the
Defendants, Metro Corp. removed the action on the premise
that the New Jersey citizenship of those Defendants must be
disregarded because they were not properly joined as parties.
Metro Corp. evokes the “fraudulent misjoinder”
doctrine and argues that the joinder of Plaintiff's
claims against Metro Corp. with Plaintiff's claims
against the other Defendants was “egregious.”
Metro Corp. argues that Plaintiff's claims against the
New Jersey Defendants must be severed and remanded. Metro
Corp. further argues that Plaintiff's remaining case
against Metro Corp. must be dismissed for lack of personal
contests Metro Corp.'s position that the five Defendants
are not properly joined, or that they were
“fraudulently misjoined.” Plaintiff argues that
the fraudulent misjoinder doctrine is not recognized in this
District, and because Metro Corp. improperly removed her case
from New Jersey state court, her chosen forum, she is
entitled to attorney's fees and costs related to Metro
Corp.'s improvident removal. Plaintiff further contests
Metro Corp.'s lack of personal jurisdiction argument.
removal statute provides, “A civil action otherwise
removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction under
section 1332(a) of this title may not be removed if any of
the parties in interest properly joined and served as
defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is
brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). The removal
statutes “are to be strictly construed against removal
and all doubts should be resolved in favor of remand, ”
and “a party who urges jurisdiction on a federal court
bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists.”
Boyer v. Snap-on Tools Corp., 913 F.2d 108, 111 (3d
Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). Moreover, a removing party who
charges that a plaintiff has fraudulently joined a party to
destroy diversity of jurisdiction has a heavy burden of
persuasion. Id. (citation omitted).
the well-established fraudulent joinder doctrine, joinder is
fraudulent “where there is no reasonable basis in fact
or colorable ground supporting the claim against the joined
defendant, or no real intention in good faith to prosecute
the action against the defendant or seek a joint
judgment.” Id. (citation omitted). A district
court must resolve all contested issues of substantive fact
in favor of the plaintiff and must resolve any uncertainties
as to the current state of controlling substantive law in
favor of the plaintiff. Id. “If there is even
a possibility that a state court would find that the
complaint states a cause of action against any one of the
resident defendants, the federal court must find that joinder
was proper and remand the case to state court.”
Id. (citation omitted).
the more novel fraudulent misjoinder doctrine,  Federal Civil
Procedure Rule 20 is invoked,  and a two-step analysis employed.
Rule 20(b) provides:
Persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants if:
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly,
severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising
out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series ...