United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
ROBERT W. CRAIL, SR. and DOROTHY P. CRAIL, CO-ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT W. CRAIL, JR., et al. PLAINTIFFS
ELSMERE HEALTH FACILITIES, LP d/b/a WOODCREST NURSING AND REHABILITATION CENTER, et al. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. Bunning United States District Judge
cases, which involve the same parties and arise from the same
factual circumstances, are before the Court on several
pending motions. Specifically, in case no. 17-cv-2,
Plaintiffs have filed a Motion for Leave to File a First
Amended Complaint to join Barbara Beckley, Jessica Stines,
Rhea Dwyer, Monica Parks Daniels, Hannah Ralston, and
Franklin Nathan as defendants (Doc. # 8); and a Motion to
Remand this matter to the Kenton County, Kentucky Circuit
Court from which it was removed (Doc. # 9). And in case no.
17-cv-50, Plaintiffs have also filed a Motion to
Remand. (Doc. # 14). Each of these motions has
been fully briefed by counsel. For the reasons discussed
below, Plaintiffs' Motions will be granted.
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint tendered in case no.
17-cv-2 (Doc. # 8-2) will be ordered filed of record in that
case. Thereafter, case no. 17-cv-2 and case no. 17-cv-50 will
be remanded to the Kenton Circuit Court from which they were
Factual and Procedural Background
Case No. 17-cv-2
December 12, 2016, Plaintiffs Robert W. Crail, Sr. and
Dorothy P. Crail, as co-administrators of the Estate of
Robert W. Crail, Jr., and Megan Crail and Robert W. Crail,
filed a civil action in the Kenton Circuit Court against
Elsmere Health Facilities, LP d/b/a Woodcrest Nursing and
Rehabilitation Center (“Woodcrest”), John Doe,
and Jane Doe. (Doc. # 1-2). Plaintiffs allege Woodcrest is a
nursing home facility that undertook to render personal care
to Robert W. Crail, Jr. and provide him room and board.
(Id. at 5). Plaintiffs state that John Doe and Jane
Doe are registered nurses and/or certified nurse aides
employed by Woodcrest. (Id.). Plaintiffs state that
Robert W. Crail, Jr. had impaired mobility and muscular
dystrophy. (Id. at 6). According to Plaintiffs, on
March 20, 2016, Robert W. Crail, Jr. was found deceased on
the landing of a flight of stairs at the facility.
(Id.). Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges five counts
against Defendants, claiming negligence, wrongful death,
personal injuries and pain and suffering, punitive damages,
and loss of consortium. (Id. at 7-12).
January 5, 2017, Defendant Woodcrest removed the case to this
Court based upon diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. # 1).
Woodcrest alleges Co-Administrator Plaintiffs Robert W.
Crail, Sr. and Dorothy P. Crail and Robert W. Crail, III are
all residents of Kenton County, Kentucky. (Doc. # 1-2, at
4; Doc. # 1, at 3). Woodcrest further alleges Megan Crail is
a resident of Davidson County, Tennessee. (Doc. # 1-2, at 5;
Doc. # 1, at 3). As for Woodcrest, it is a limited
partnership with two members, Thomas D. Scott and Elsmere
Health Facilities GP, LLC. Woodcrest states Thomas D. Scott
is a resident of Texas and Elsmere Health Facilities GP, LLC,
is a citizen of Texas. (Doc. # 1, at 3 ¶ 6.c.).
Woodcrest's principal place of business is also located
in Texas, and therefore it concludes it is a citizen of
Texas. (Id.). The parties do not dispute that the
amount in controversy exceeds the requirement under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). (Doc. # 1, at 4; Doc. # 9, at 2). This case
was assigned number 17-cv-2 upon removal.
January 27, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File
First Amended Complaint with Jury Demand (Doc. # 8) seeking
to join six defendants allegedly employed at Woodcrest at the
time of Robert W. Crail, Jr.'s death, including:
Registered Nurse Barbara Beckley; Certified Nurse Assistants
Jessica Stines, Rhea Dwyer, Monica Parks Daniels, and Hannah
Ralston; and former Woodcrest Administrator Franklin Nathan
(see Doc. # 8-2). In support of the Motion,
Plaintiffs allege that since the date of removal, they have
discovered the identity of these employees and now seek to
add them to the cause of action in place of the John Doe and
Jane Doe defendants. (Doc. # 8, at 2). The proposed Amended
Complaint includes factual allegations against these
newly-named individual Defendants and replaces the wrongful
death count with a respondeat superior claim. (Doc. # 8-2, at
5-8). This new count alleges that the individual Defendants
were agents and/or employees of Woodcrest and, thus,
Woodcrest is responsible for their negligence pursuant to
respondeat superior. (Id. at 10). Plaintiffs argue
that leave to amend should be granted under Federal Civil
Rule 15 and attach a copy of the proposed Amended Complaint
for filing. (Doc. # 8, at 2-3; Doc. # 8-2).
February 2, 2017, Plaintiffs also filed a Motion to Remand
this matter back to the Kenton Circuit Court where it was
originally filed. (Doc. # 9). As grounds for this Motion,
Plaintiffs argue this case never should have been removed
from state court because a “Doe” case should not
be removed prior to establishing the citizenship of all
defendants. (Id. at 2-4). Plaintiffs further note
that some of the Woodcrest employees named in its proposed
Amended Complaint are citizens of Kentucky, and thus this
Court will no longer have diversity jurisdiction over this
matter after the Amended Complaint is filed of record.
(Id. at 4-6).
Woodcrest filed Responses opposing Plaintiffs' two
Motions (Doc. # 11; Doc. # 13), to which Plaintiffs filed
Replies (Doc. # 12; Doc. #15). These Motions are thus ripe
for the Court's consideration.
Case No. 17-cv-50
March 20, 2017, while the Motion to Amend and Motion to
Remand were pending in case no. 17-cv-2, Plaintiffs filed a
second civil action in the Kenton Circuit Court against
Elsmere Health Facilities, LP d/b/a Woodcrest Nursing and
Rehabilitation Center, Barbara Beckley, Jessica Stines, Rhea
Dwyer, Monica Parks Daniels, Hannah Ralston, Franklin Nathan,
and John and Jane Doe defendants. (Doc. # 1-7). The claims
alleged in this Complaint are the same as the claims alleged
in Plaintiffs' proposed Amended Complaint tendered with
their Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint in case
no. 17-cv-2. (Compare Doc. # 8-2 in 17-cv-2
with Doc. # 1-7 in 17-cv-50).
March 29, 2017, Defendant Woodcrest removed the second state
action to this Court, arguing diversity jurisdiction exists
pursuant to the doctrine of fraudulent joinder. (Doc. # 1).
Specifically, Defendant argues Plaintiffs do not present any
colorable claims against the individually-named defendants
under Kentucky law and, therefore, these Defendants were
fraudulently joined for the purpose of defeating diversity
jurisdiction. (Id. at 4-8). Consequently, argues
Defendant, the doctrine of fraudulent joinder requires the
citizenship of these individual defendants be ignored in
determining the presence of diversity jurisdiction.
April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand this case
to the Kenton Circuit Court. (Doc. # 14). In the Motion to
Remand, Plaintiffs claim that the individual Defendants were
not fraudulently joined for the purpose of destroying
diversity jurisdiction. In particular, Plaintiffs contend
they pleaded causes of action against each of the these
Defendants in their individual capacity as Mr. Crail's
caretakers and/or as administrators of Woodcrest.
3, 2017, Woodcrest filed a Response in opposition to
Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. (Doc. # 18). On May 17,
2017, Plaintiffs filed their Reply. (Doc. # 21). As a result,
this Motion is also ripe for the Court's review and is
considered immediately below.
Motion to Remand in ...