United States District Court, D. Hawaii
TINA M. STASSENS, Plaintiff,
DENNIS STASSENS, STASSENS FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, et al., Defendants.
ORDER (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION
TO REMAND AND (2) REMANDING ACTION TO STATE CIRCUIT
Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge.
December 31, 2018, Defendants Dennis Stassens and the
Stassens Family Limited Partnership (SFLP, and, with Dennis
Stassens, “Defendants”) removed this action from
the Third Circuit Court for the State of Hawai‘i. Dkt.
No. 1. A month later, Plaintiff Tina M. Stassens (Plaintiff)
filed a motion to remand. Dkt. No. 11. Because the notice of
removal (and accompanying exhibits) failed to state the
domicile of all of the partners for SFLP and the declaration
Defendants submitted in opposition to the motion to remand
failed to correct this deficiency, Defendants have not
carried their burden of establishing this Court's subject
matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Court
therefore GRANTS the motion to remand to the extent that this
action is remanded to the Third Circuit Court.
Plaintiff's request for attorney fees and costs is
notice of removal, Dkt. No. 1, relies solely on diversity for
purposes of this Court's subject matter jurisdiction.
Defendants asserted that Dennis Stassens was a citizen of the
State of Oregon at the time the complaint was filed.
Defendants further asserted that SFLP is an Oregon limited
partnership with its principal place of business in Oregon
and that has been the case since before the complaint was
filed. Defendants also asserted that SFLP's general and
limited partners include four individuals, all of whom are
citizens of Oregon, citing SFLP's amended annual report.
spends much of her motion to remand, Dkt. No. 11-1, advancing
an inapt argument concerning the Third Circuit Court's
purported ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over
Defendants. Nonetheless, Plaintiff briefly argues that
Defendants have failed to establish diversity jurisdiction
and that she is entitled to an award of fees and costs as a
result of Defendants' improper removal.
opposition, Dkt. No. 17, inter alia, Defendants
again assert that SFLP's general and limited partners are
citizens of Oregon. On this occasion, Defendants list seven
general and limited partners of SFLP, citing a declaration
(“the Declaration”) from one of the general
partners, Taira Lynn Stassens, and SFLP's amended annual
report. Defendants assert that the Oregon citizenship of each
of the Defendants is “undisputed.” In reply, Dkt.
No. 20, Plaintiff argues, inter alia, that
Defendants cannot rely upon the Declaration because, with
respect to the partners who are not Taira Lynn Stassens, it
constitutes inadmissible hearsay.
hearing on the motion to remand was held on April 12, 2019.
Dkt. No. 21. Among other things, at the hearing, counsel for
Defendants asserted that he should be allowed to submit
supplemental declarations concerning the SFLP partners'
citizenship, citing Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 116 F.3d 373 (9th Cir. 1997).
to Section 1441(a) of Title 28, any civil action brought in a
State court may be removed to federal court by a defendant
provided that the federal court would have original
jurisdiction over the action. Pursuant to Section 1332(a)(1)
of Title 28, this Court has original jurisdiction of all
civil actions involving an amount in controversy in excess of
$75, 000 and citizens of different States.
to Section 1447(c) of Title 28, a motion to remand on any
basis other than a lack of subject matter jurisdiction must
be made within 30 days of the notice of removal's filing.
“If at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
burden of establishing this Court's subject matter
jurisdiction “rests upon the party asserting
jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.
of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
Court observed at the April 12, 2019 hearing, the principal
issue with respect to the motion to remand is the citizenship
of SFLP. In that regard, Defendants acknowledge that
SFLP's citizenship is determined based upon the
citizenship of each of its partners, both general and
limited. See Dkt. No. 17 at 6; see also Carden
v. Arkoma Associates, 494 U.S. 185, 195 (1990)
(“We adhere to our oft-repeated rule that diversity
jurisdiction in a suit by or against the entity depends on
the citizenship of all the members….”)
(quotation and citation omitted).
the principal issue here is the citizenship of all of
SFLP's general and limited partners. The notice of
removal helps little in this regard because it only mentions
four of SFLP's seven partners. As such, the notice of
removal failed to assert the citizenship of all of
Defendants took another bite at establishing SFLP's
citizenship in their opposition to the motion to remand. This
bite is equally unavailing, however. Notably, Defendants rely
solely on the declaration of one of SFLP's general
partners and an annual amended report for SFLP. However,
while the Declaration may aid in establishing Taira Lynn
Stassens' citizenship, it does nothing to aid in
establishing the citizenship of the other six partners. The
same is true of the annual amended report to which Taira Lynn
Stassens cites in the Declaration as supporting her
contentions about the citizenship of the other partners. With
respect to the limited partners, the annual amended report is
silent. See Dkt. No. 1-3. With respect to the
general partners, the annual amended report, while listing
them, merely provides a P.O. Box address for each. See
id. Although it is arguable whether such an address even
demonstrates the general partners' residence, the P.O.
Box addresses certainly do not indicate their domicile for
purposes of diversity jurisdiction. See Byrd v. QDRO
Office, 2014 WL 4715869, at *3 (N.D. Ohio Sep. 22, 2014)
(collecting cases and observing that, “[a]t best, a
post office box may demonstrate residence in a ...