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Mullins v. Marathon Petroleum Co., Lp

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

May 22, 2013

JASON SETH MULLINS and TABITHA DAWN MULLINS, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARATHON PETROLEUM CO., LP, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand [Docket No. 18]. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court finds that remand is not appropriate.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Jason and Tabitha Mullins challenge Defendant Marathon Petroleum Company's (hereinafter "Marathon") policy concerning firearms on its premises and its application of that policy to Plaintiff Jason Mullins. He was suspended for one day without pay and placed on probation for 24 months for violation of Marathon's Weapons Policy. Specifically, according to Plaintiffs, on May 11, 2012, Ken Rakes, an employee of Defendant Securitas Security Services (hereinafter "Securitas") saw a rifle in backseat of Plaintiff's vehicle, which was parked Marathon's lot [Docket No. 1-1, § 19]. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was called into a meeting with Jamie Alcorn, Steve Bailey and Rob Casto, during which he was read Marathon's weapon policy and told to leave the premises until he was called back into work [Docket No. 1-1, § 20].

Six days later, Plaintiff was asked to meet with Bea Smith, Jamie Alcorn and Steve Scott [Docket No. 1-1, § [21]. At that meeting he was told of the above-referenced disciplinary measures [Docket No. 1-1, § [21]. Plaintiff continued to work for the next nine days.

According to the Complaint, Jason Mullins was hospitalized on May 31 and remained thus until June 4, as he has suffered an aneurism due a drastic increase in blood pressure. Plaintiffs allege the aneurism and its side effects were due to the stress he experienced as a result the disciplinary action taken against him by Marathon.

Plaintiffs further allege that Jason Mullins has been cleared to return to work, but that Marathon will not permit his return [Docket No. 1-1, § [26].

On November 30, 2012, Plaintiff Jason Mullins and his wife Tabitha Mullins filed this lawsuit in Boyd Circuit Court against Marathon, Securitas, Chet Smith, Bea Smith and Jamie Alcorn [Docket No. 1-1]. The Complaint alleges that the disciplinary action taken against Plaintiff Jason Mullins violates KRS § 237.106 and KRS § 527.020[8] as well the public policies of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Jason Mullins claims that he suffered emotional distress, resulting in physical illness as a result of Defendants' actions. Plaintiff Tabitha Mullins seeks damages for loss of consortium.

Plaintiffs are citizens of Kentucky, as are Defendants Bea Smith and Jamie Alcorn.

On December 21, 2012, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal in this Court, alleging jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1332 [Docket No. 1]. In their Notice, Defendants acknowledge that Defendants Smith and Alcorn are non-diverse but that their citizenship should be disregarded pursuant to the doctrine of fraudulent joinder.

Subsequently, Plaintiffs amended their Complaint to add additional causes of action against Defendants Smith and Alcorn, to-wit, tortiuous interference with contractual relations and civil conspiracy [Docket No. 13].

Plaintiffs seek a remand of this case to Boyd Circuit Court. Plaintiffs argue that this Court lacks jurisdiction over this matter as the parties are not diverse, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The issues of jurisdiction and, more specifically, fraudulent joinder have been fully briefed by the parties [Docket Nos. 18, 23, 24, 29 and 32].

II. APPLICABLE LAW

The basis for the removal of this matter is 29 U.S.C. § 1332 which states, in pertinent part, that a district court "shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000... and is between citizens of different States." 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (a)(1). The parties have not suggested that the amount in controversy is in dispute. The issue before the Court is whether this civil action is between citizens of different States. Defendants contend that although Plaintiffs and two of the Defendants are citizens of Kentucky, this fact should be disregarded by this Court in determining whether diversity exists. This feint is the result of the much maligned doctrine of ...


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