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Shuler v. Emericare Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 27, 2017

Denise Shuler,
v.
EmeriCare Inc.,

          Present: The Honorable JOHN A. KRONSTADT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER RE MOTION TO REMAND (DKT. 9)

         REQUEST TO FILE OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND (DKT. 22, 23)

         I. Introduction

         Denise Shuler (“Plaintiff”) brought this action in the Los Angeles Superior Court on February 24, 2017, as an individual and successor in interest on behalf of Frances Ann Riedel (“Riedel”). The action seeks relief against EmeriCare Inc., dba Brookdale San Dimas (“EmeriCare”) and Brookdale Living Communities, Inc. (“Brookdale”) (jointly, “Defendants”). Ex. A to Notice of Removal, Complaint, Dkt. 1. Michael Stone and Rani Riedel are named as nominal defendants. Id. The Complaint advances the following causes of action: (i) elder abuse and neglect, Cal. Welfare & Inst. Code § 15610 et seq.; (ii) violation of Patient's Bill of Rights, Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 1599 and 1276; (iii) wrongful death; (iv) negligent hiring, training and supervision; (v) negligence; and (vi) unfair business practices, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. Id.

         On April 7, 2017, Defendants removed the action based on claimed diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441. Notice of Removal (“Notice”), Dkt. 1 ¶ 6. The removal was based upon Defendants' representation that they are not California citizens. Id. ¶¶ 8-11. It is undisputed that Plaintiff is a citizen of California, and that the citizenship of the nominal defendants is not relevant to the determination whether there is diversity jurisdiction. Id. ¶ Plaintiff moved to remand the action to the Superior Court on May 5, 2017 (“Motion”). Dkt. 9-1. Plaintiff alleges that, because EmeriCare is a citizen of California, there is not complete diversity. Id. at 4. Defendants opposed the Motion (“Opposition”)[1] (Dkt. 24), and Plaintiff replied. Dkt. 25.

         A hearing on the Motion was held on July 24, 2017. For the reasons stated in this Order, the Motion is DENIED.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         The Complaint alleges that on July 3, 2016, Riedel fell, and was then transported to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with having a broken hip. Complaint ¶ 73. She was 75. Id. ¶ 70. Prior to her accident, Plaintiff had lived independently at her home, and “was able to perform the activities of daily living.” Id. ¶ 71. Three days after the accident, Riedel was transferred from the hospital to EmeriCare's Los Angeles County facility for rehabilitation. Id. ¶ 73. The Complaint alleges that, while Riedel was the facility, she received inadequate care. Id. ¶¶ 74-90. This caused a rapid decline in her health, and then her death. Id. ¶¶ 92, 126.

         According to the Complaint, Defendants are business entities engaged in the ownership and operation of a skilled nursing facility licensed in California. Id. ¶ 14. The Complaint represents that Brookdale is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware doing business in Los Angeles. Id. ¶ 10. In the Notice, Defendants represent that Brookdale is organized under the laws of Delaware, and has its principal place of business in Tennessee. Notice ¶ 8.

         The Complaint also alleges that EmeriCare is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Los Angeles. Complaint ¶ 10. In the Notice of Removal, Defendants represent that EmeriCare is organized under the laws of Delaware, and has its principal place of business in Tennessee. Notice ¶ 11.

         In support of the Motion, Plaintiff submitted certain business and public records. The website of the Tennessee Secretary of State does not show any results for a search of the name EmeriCare, Inc. Ex. E-2 to Declaration of Mary E. Lockington (“Lockington Decl.”), Dkt. 9-2 at 44. The website of the California Secretary of State shows that EmeriCare is registered to do business in California. Ex. E-2 to Lockington Decl., Dkt. 9-2 at 46. It is listed as a “Foreign Stock” entity. Id. Both the entity address and the entity mailing address for EmeriCare are in Tennessee. Id. Corporation Service Company (“CSC”) is designated as the agent for service of process for EmeriCare in California. Id. CSC has a California mailing address.

         Plaintiff has also submitted what appears to be a public record for the San Dimas EmeriCare facility. The record states that the facility is located in San Dimas. Ex. F to Lockington Decl., Dkt. 9-2 at 49. It lists EmeriCare as the licensee of the facility. Id. A Seattle address is shown for EmeriCare. Id.

         In support of the Opposition, as part of the effort to meet their burden of proof, Defendants filed a declaration from Joanne Leskowicz, Senior Vice President of Tax for Brookdale Senior Living. Declaration of Joanne Leskowicz (“Leskowicz Decl.”), Dkt. 24-1 ¶ 1.[2] She does not describe the relationship among Brookdale Senior Living, EmeriCare and Brookdale. However, she states that, through 2016, EmeriCare's headquarters were located in Seattle, Washington. Id. ¶ 5. In 2017, they were relocated to Tennessee. Id. Leskowicz states that all of the directors of the board and executive officers of EmeriCare are located in Tennessee, and that EmeriCare directs, controls and coordinates the implementation of global activities from Tennessee. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. The declaration of Leskowicz attaches a “Fictitious Business Name Statement” for Emeritus at San Dimas[3] that identifies the “principal place of business” for Emeritus as 1740 San Dimas Ave. Ex. A to Leskowicz Decl., Dkt. 24-1 at 5. EmeriCare is listed as its registered owner. Id. A Seattle address is listed for EmeriCare. Id.

         III. ...


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