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Imagine Lifestyles, LLC v. Perry

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

January 10, 2020

IMAGINE LIFESTYLES, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DEANNA PERRY, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court upon several motions: Defendant Deanna Perry (“Perry”) has filed a Motion to Transfer Case (Doc. 2) and a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 3), and Plaintiffs Imagine Lifestyles, LLC and MEE Enterprises, LLC have filed a Motion to Remand (Doc. 6). For the reasons expressed herein, Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand is GRANTED, and Defendant Perry's motions are dismissed as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a case about a damaged Lamborghini. Plaintiff Imagine Lifestyles, LLC is a Florida company that works with Plaintiff MEE Enterprises, a New Jersey LLC (collectively “Plaintiffs”), to rent “rare high-end exotic sports cars” and “specialty exotic luxury vehicles” to the public. (Compl. ¶1.) These vehicles are rented from Plaintiffs' business in the county of Camden, New Jersey. (Id. ¶2.) On May 31, 2019, Plaintiffs rented a luxury car-a Lamborghini Huracan, valued at approximately $221, 582.91-to Defendant Deanna Perry. (Id. ¶¶8, 22.) The parties signed a Rental Agreement setting out the terms of the lease. (Id. ¶8.)

         On June 1, 2019, Perry parked the rented Lamborghini along the side of North 5th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Compl. Ex. B.) At some later point that day, while under the influence of alcohol, Leberia Parks drove her car down that same street. (Compl. ¶12.) Ms. Parks crashed her car into the parked Lamborghini, which sustained at least $121, 717.31 in damages as a result. (Id. ¶12-14.) At the time of the incident, Ms. Parks was driving a car owned by Angelique Williams, who Plaintiffs have also named as a defendant in this action.

         After the incident, Plaintiffs submitted claims to both Defendant Perry's and Defendant Williams' insurers, seeking the costs of general and incidental damages such as towing and storage costs, loss of use damages, and attorney's fees. (Compl. ¶¶14-18.) Both of Defendants' insurers denied the claim. (Id.)

         Following this denial, on July 29, 2019, Plaintiffs sued Defendants in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, alleging one count of negligence against both Defendants and one count of breach of contract against Defendant Perry. (Doc. 1 at 6.) On August 30, 2019, Perry removed the action to this Court, and requested that venue be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1 at 4.) She has also moved to dismiss the action. (Doc. 3.)

         On September 4, 2019 Plaintiffs moved to remand this action to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, citing a forum selection clause in the Rental Agreement that Perry signed. (Doc. 6-2, “Pl. Mot.”) The forum selection clause reads as follows:

This Agreement and all matters or disputes arising from this Agreement shall be governed in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey without reference to any conflict of law provisions. The courts of the State of Jersey shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine any claims or disputes pertaining directly or indirectly to this agreement and to any matter arising therefrom. The parties furthermore consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of courts in Camden County, New Jersey in all disputes arising out of or relating to this Agreement.

(Pl. Mot. at 4.)

         Plaintiffs argue that this forum selection clause prohibits removal, as it limits jurisdiction exclusively to the Superior Court of New Jersey within Camden County. (Id.) Plaintiffs also argue that removal was improper because Defendant Perry failed to secure the consent of Defendant Williams before removing this action. (Id.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD[1]

         A. Removal

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove an action filed in state court to a federal court with original jurisdiction over the action. Once an action is removed, a plaintiff may challenge removal by moving to remand the case back to state court. To defeat a plaintiff's motion to remand, the defendant bears the burden of showing that the federal court has jurisdiction to hear the case. Abels v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 770 F.2d 26, 29 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305 U.S. 534, 537 (1939)). Where the decision to remand is a close one, district courts are encouraged to err on the side of remanding the case back to state court. See Abels, 770 F.2d at 29 (“Because the lack of jurisdiction would make any ...


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