United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District
matter is before the Court on the motion of Plaintiff
Jennifer Thurmond to remand the case to the Jefferson County,
Kentucky Circuit Court, ECF No. 9. Defendants Dean Dairy
Holdings, LLC d/b/a Dean Milk Company, LLC (“Dean
Milk”) and Kyle Wancket responded, ECF No. 14. Thurmond
replied, ECF No. 17. Thurmond also moved to strike settlement
discussions in Dean Milk and Wancket's notice of removal,
ECF No. 8. Dean Dairy and Wancket responded, ECF No. 13.
Thurmond replied, ECF No. 18.
these motions involve similar issues and the same facts, the
Court will address them in a single memorandum opinion and
order. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant
Thurmond's motion to remand the case to the Jefferson
County Circuit Court. The Court will deny Thurmond's
motion to strike references to settlement discussions as
Allegations in the Original Complaint
filed the original complaint in the Jefferson County Circuit
Court. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1-1. In the original complaint,
Thurmond asserts that she and Wancket are residents of
Kentucky and that Dean Milk is a foreign limited liability
company licensed to do business in Kentucky. Id.
¶¶ 1, 3, 5. She alleges that during part of her
employment with Dean Milk, Wancket was her supervisor.
Id. ¶ 6. Thurmond apparently got into a dispute
with Wancket. Id. ¶ 10. Afterwards, she threw a
small metal trash can in frustration. Id. ¶ 11.
Dean Milk suspended her with pay and eventually terminated
her for violence in the workplace. Id. ¶ 12.
Thurmond contends that Dean Milk disciplined its male
employees less harshly for similar violent behavior.
Id. ¶¶ 13-16. Thurmond also claims that
Wancket harassed and intimated her in a “severe and
pervasive manner.” Id. ¶ 17. She
maintains that he did not harass or intimidate male employees
in the same way. Id. ¶ 18.
original complaint, Thurmond asserts two claims against Dean
Milk and Wancket. First, she claims that Dean Milk and
Wancket discriminated against her based on her gender in
violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA), Ky. Rev.
Stat. Ann. § 344.010, et seq. (Count I).
Id. ¶¶ 18-25. Second, she states that Dean
Milk and Wancket wrongfully discharged her (Count II).
Id. ¶¶ 26-29. She seeks compensatory
damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs.
Id. at 10.
Dean Milk and Wancket's Notice of Removal
February 2017, Dean Milk and Wancket removed the case from
the Jefferson County Circuit Court to this Court under
diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441,
and 1446. Not. Removal 1, ECF No. 1. In their notice of
removal, Dean Milk and Wancket explain that the amount in
controversy is met because the remedies that Thurmond seeks
in the original complaint clearly exceed $75, 000.00.
Id. at 6-7. They also assert that complete diversity
is met because Thurmond is a citizen of Kentucky and that
Dean Milk is a citizen of Texas and Wisconsin. Id.
at 2. And even if Wancket is a citizen of Kentucky, they
maintain that his citizenship should be disregarded because
he is fraudulently joined in the action. Id.
Additional Claims Alleged in Thurmond's Amended
April 2017, this Court permitted Thurmond to file an amended
complaint. Order 4/24/2017 1, ECF No. 21. In relevant part,
the amended complaint adds two claims against Dean Milk and
Wancket. Thurmond asserts that Wancket was generally
negligent and/or negligent and/or is liable for intentional
infliction of emotional distress (Count III). Id.
¶¶ 35-42. She also claims that Dean Milk is
vicariously liable for the harm that she suffered because of
other employees and was negligent in its hiring, training,
and supervision of its employees (Count IV). Id.
Standard of Review
now moves to remand her case to the Jefferson County Circuit
Court. Mot. Remand 1, ECF No. 9. Removal to federal court is
proper for “any civil action brought in a State court
of which the district courts of the United States have
original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). As a
court of limited jurisdiction, a district court is ...