United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND AND
DANA M. SABRAW United States District Judge
case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
amend the Complaint and to thereafter remand this case to
state court. Defendant Macy's West Stores, Inc. filed an
opposition to the motion, and Plaintiff filed a reply. For
the reasons set out below, the motion is granted.
November 25, 2016,  Plaintiff Thu Vu Tran went to the
Macy's Store in Westfield North County of Escondido.
(Id.) While in the store, Plaintiff tripped and fell
on a necklace that was lying on the floor. (Id.)
After the fall, Plaintiff was trampled by a throng of
shoppers. (Id.) As a result of this incident,
Plaintiff suffered “multiple fractures to her left leg,
necessitating surgery with implantation of rods and screws,
lower back injuries and severe bruising, most especially on
her left arm, and causing other associated damages and
March 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present case in San Diego
Superior Court against Macy's Inc., Macy's Store No.
550 and Jane “Doe, ” a resident of the County of
San Diego, California. The Complaint alleges claims for
negligence and premises liability. On April 20, 2017,
Plaintiff amended the Complaint to name Macy's West
Stores, Inc. in place of Macy's, Inc. Macy's West
Stores, Inc. filed an Answer to the Complaint on May 5, 2017,
and on May 11, 2017, removed the case to this Court on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction. The present motion followed.
requests leave to amend her Complaint to substitute Christine
Loughridge for Defendant Jane “Doe.” With this
amendment, Plaintiff asserts diversity jurisdiction is
lacking, and the case must be remanded to state court.
leave to amend generally is governed by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a), this Rule “‘does not apply when
a plaintiff amends her complaint after removal to add a
diversity destroying defendant.'” Dorfman v.
Mass. Casualty Ins. Co., No. CV 15-06370 MMM (ASx), 2015
WL 7312413, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 19, 2015) (quoting
Greer v. Lockheed Martin, No. CV 10-1704 JF (HRL),
2010 WL 3168408, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2010)). In that
situation, courts look to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e), which
states, “[i]f after removal the plaintiff seeks to join
additional defendants whose joinder would destroy subject
matter jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or permit
joinder and remand the action to the State court.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(e).
When deciding whether to permit joinder under § 1447(e),
a court should consider the following factors: (1) whether
the party sought to be joined is needed for just adjudication
and would be joined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
19(a); (2) whether the statute of limitations would prevent
the filing of a new action against the new defendant in state
court; (3) whether there has been an unexplained delay in
seeking to join the new defendant; (4) whether the plaintiff
seeks to join the new party solely to defeat federal
jurisdiction; (5) whether denial of the joinder would
prejudice the plaintiff; and (6) the strength of the claims
against the new defendant.
Mkrtchian v. AT&T Mobility Services, LLC, No.
LACV 16-09102 VAP (AJWx), 2017 WL 2957931, at *2 (C.D. Cal.
July 7, 2017) (citing Boon v. Allstate Ins. Co., 229
F.Supp.2d 1016, 1020 (C.D. Cal. 2002)).
Rule of Civil Procedure 19 requires joinder of persons whose
absence would preclude the grant of complete relief, or whose
absence would impede their ability to protect their interests
or would subject any of the parties to the danger of
inconsistent obligations.'” Id. (quoting
Clinco v. Roberts, 41 F.Supp.2d 1080, 1082 (C.D.
Cal. 1999)). “While courts consider the standard set
forth under Rule 19 in determining whether to permit joinder
under section 1447(e), ‘amendment under § 1447(e)
is a less restrictive standard than for joinder under [Rule
19]'” Id. (quoting IBC Aviation
Services, Inc. v. Compania Mexicana de Aviacion, S.A. de
C.V., 125 F.Supp.2d 1008, 1011-12 (N.D. Cal. 2000)).
This less restrictive standard “‘is met when
failure to join will lead to separate and redundant actions,
' but it is not met when ‘defendants are only
tangentially related to the cause of action or would not
prevent complete relief.'” Id. (quoting
IBC Aviation, 125 F.Supp.2d at 1012).
Plaintiff nor Defendant addresses this factor directly, but
based on the facts presented, it is possible that failure to
join Ms. Loughridge could lead to separate and redundant
actions. Ms. Loughridge is alleged to be the Merchandise Lead
at the Macy's Store where the accident occurred. Thus,
she could be held responsible for any negligent conduct on
her own behalf or on behalf of any employees under her
supervision. Assuming Ms. Loughridge was acting in the course
and scope of her employment at the time of the accident, it
is likely Macy's would defend Ms. Loughridge, and thus a
separate action against her would be unnecessary.
Theoretically, however, it is possible that failure to join
Ms. Loughridge as a party to this case could result in
Plaintiff having to litigate two separate cases in two
separate courts arising out of the same incident.
Accordingly, this factor weighs in favor of granting leave to