United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL SENIOR CARE, LLC; GGNSC STANFORD, LLC, d/b/a GOLDEN LIVINGCENTER - STANFORD; GGNSC ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES, LLC; GGNSC HOLDINGS, LLC; GGNSC EQUITY HOLDINGS, LLC; GGNSC EQUITY HOLDINGS II, LLC; GOLDEN GATE ANCILLARY, LLC; GGNSC CLINICAL SERVICES, LLC; and GPH STANFORD, LLC, Plaintiffs,
BRENDA SLAVEN and ELAINE CARTER, co-administratrixes of the estate of Sarah Stambaugh, Deceased Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss (DE 11)
filed by the estate of Sarah Stambaugh. With the motion, the
estate asks the Court to dismiss the plaintiffs'
complaint, which seeks to compel the estate to arbitrate
claims it filed in state court. For the following reasons,
the motion will be denied.
Stambaugh was a resident of Golden Living Center, a long-term
care facility in Stanford, Kentucky, from March 29, 2016 to
February 4, 2017. On March 13, 2017, she filed an action in
Lincoln Circuit Court against Golden Living, various
affiliated companies, and two individuals who are
administrators of the facility. In that state court action,
she asserted claims of negligence and violation of her rights
as a resident of a long-term care facility.
March 31, 2017, Golden Living and the affiliated companies
(together, “Golden Living”) filed this action in
federal court asking for an order compelling Stambaugh to
arbitrate the claims she had asserted in Lincoln Circuit
Court. On April 7, 2017, Stambaugh's counsel filed a
“Notice of Death” with this Court stating that
Stambaugh died on March 19, 2017. The notice further stated
that “estate proceedings will begin shortly, and a
motion to substitute and revive the action will be filed when
four months after filing the Notice of Death, on August 3,
3017, Stambaugh's counsel moved to substitute
Stambaugh's estate as the plaintiff in the state court
action. A few days later, on August 8, 2017, Golden Living
amended its petition in this Court to name the estate as the
defendant instead of Stambaugh. The estate now argues this
action should be dismissed for several reasons.
Court will first address, as it must, the estate's
argument that this Court does not have subject matter
jurisdiction over this action. Golden Living asserts that
this Court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. That statute provides that district courts shall
have original jurisdiction over all civil actions where the
matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000
and is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C.A.
is no dispute that the estate is a Kentucky citizen and none
of the plaintiffs is. The estate argues, however, that the
question is not whether diversity jurisdiction exists in the
action filed in this Court. Citing Vaden v. Discover
Bank, 556 U.S. 49 (2009), the estate argues that, in
determining whether subject matter jurisdiction exists in
this action, the Court should consider whether diversity
jurisdiction exists in the underlying state-court action. (DE
11-1, Mem. at 4.)
Court, however, continues to agree with the Eighth
Circuit's determination in Northport Health Servs. of
Arkansas, LLC v. Rutherford, 605 F.3d 483 (8th Cir.
2010) that in Vaden, the Supreme Court
“carefully limited its statement of the issues and
holding to federal question jurisdiction.”
Northport, 605 F.3d at 490. See Brookdale Senior
Living Inc. v. Stacy, 27 F.Supp.3d 776 (E.D. Ky. 2014).
The Eighth Circuit instructed that “diversity of
citizenship is determined in these cases by the citizenship
of the parties named in the proceedings before the district
court, plus any indispensable parties who must be joined
pursuant to Rule 19.” Id. at 491. Accordingly,
in determining whether diversity jurisdiction exists in this
case, the Court will look to the parties named in the
complaint and any indispensable parties under Rule 19.
leads to the estate's next argument: that the two
individual administrators named in the state court action are
indispensable to this action under Rule 19(b). There is no
dispute that the administrators are Kentucky citizens and,
thus, their joinder would destroy this Court's diversity
19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establishes a
three-step analysis for determining whether a case should
proceed in the absence of a particular party.”
PaineWebber, Inc. v. Cohen, 276 F.3d 197, 200 (6th
Cir. 2001). The first step is to determine whether a party
not joined is necessary under Rule 19(a). Id.
Second, if the party is necessary, the court must next
determine whether joinder is feasible, considering whether
the party is subject to personal jurisdiction and if joinder
will destroy the court's subject-matter jurisdiction.
Id. Third, if joinder will destroy subject-matter
jurisdiction - for instance, through joinder of a non-diverse
party - the court must examine “whether in equity and
good conscience the action should proceed” without the
nonjoined party, i.e., whether the party is
“indispensable.” Id. If an indispensable
party cannot be feasibly joined, the action must be
dismissed. However, if the party is not indispensable, the
action may proceed in that party's absence. See GGNSC
Vanceburg, LLC, v. Hanley, Civil Action No. 13-106-HRW,
2014 WL 1333204, at *3 (E.D.Ky. Mar.28, 2014).
purposes of this opinion, the Court will assume that the
administrators are necessary parties. Turning to step two -
feasibility of joinder - joining them in this action will
destroy this Court's diversity jurisdiction. Thus, this
Court must determine whether they are indispensable, meaning
that the action should be dismissed rather than proceed
without them. Rule 19(b) provides four factors to consider
when determining whether a non-joined party is indispensable:
(1) the extent to which a judgment rendered in the
person's absence might prejudice that person or the
(2) the extent to which any prejudice could be lessened or