United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
L. COLLIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the motion (Doc. 30) of Defendants Bent Creek
Golf Club, LLC, Integrity Golf Company, LLC, and Colin
Williams (collectively, “Defendants”) to dismiss
the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).Aiming to cure the
jurisdictional defect identified in Defendants' motion,
Plaintiff responded by moving the Court to dismiss a
defendant, David Meyer, from the suit. (Doc. 41.) Defendants
replied in opposition (Doc. 44). They also subsequently moved
to stay discovery (Doc. 50) pending resolution of their
motion to dismiss. For the reasons that follow, the Court
will GRANT Plaintiff's motion to dismiss
Meyer as a named defendant (Doc. 41), and will DENY
AS MOOT both Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc.
30) and their motion to stay discovery (Doc. 50).
action arises out of a round of golf. On the back nine holes
at the Bent Creek Golf Course in Sevier County, Tennessee,
Plaintiff was thrown from the passenger seat of his golf cart
when it “lost traction, slid sideways, and diverted off
the cart path.” (Doc. 1 ¶ 18.) Defendants'
negligent maintenance of the golf course was to blame,
according to Plaintiff, and he filed his original complaint
on June 30, 2017. (Doc. 1.) He alleged only state law causes
of action. But, at the time, complete diversity of
citizenship existed among the parties-Plaintiff is a citizen
of Virginia, while Defendants are based in either Tennessee
or Florida. Plaintiff sought review in federal court on that
answered Plaintiff's original complaint on August 18,
2017. (Doc. 16.) They asserted the affirmative defense of
comparative fault, averring that Meyer-believed to have been
driving the golf cart at the time of the incident-caused or
contributed to Plaintiff's injuries. (Id.) Along
with its answer, Defendants also filed a third-party
complaint against Meyer with an eye towards the Cart Usage
Agreement (the “Agreement”) Meyer signed prior to
playing the course. Under the Agreement, Meyer
“promise[d] . . . to indemnify and hold [Defendants]
harmless from any/all damage or claims . . . that may arise
from or through the use of [the golf carts].” (Doc. 16
response to this third-party claim, Plaintiff sought, and was
granted, leave to file an amended complaint (the
“Amended Complaint”) (Doc. 28). Though he claims
to have “had no reason to believe Meyer caused or
contributed to his injuries, ” Plaintiff nevertheless
added Meyer as a defendant “out of an abundance of
caution.” (Doc. 42.)
Plaintiff, however, Meyer is a citizen of Virginia.
Defendants consequently moved to dismiss the suit for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction,  contending the addition of Meyer
destroyed diversity of citizenship. (Doc. 30.) Plaintiff now
moves the Court to dismiss Meyer from the suit to cure any
jurisdictional defects his addition to the suit may have
worked. (Doc. 41.) Defendants responded in opposition (Doc.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
seek dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1). To survive a motion
to dismiss based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction,
the plaintiff bears the burden of proving jurisdiction is
proper. Wisecarver v. Moore, 489 F.3d 747, 749 (6th
Cir. 2007). When reviewing a facial attack, such as that
here, a district court takes the allegations in the complaint
as true. Gentek Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Steel Peel Litig.
Trust, 491 F.3d 320, 330 (6th Cir. 2007).
federal court to exercise subject matter jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1332, there must be complete diversity of
citizenship among the parties,  meaning “no plaintiff and
no defendant are citizens of the same state.” Curry
v. U.S. Bulk Transport, Inc., 462 F.3d 536, 540 (6th
Cir. 2006) (quoting Jerome-Duncan, Inc. v. Auto-By-Tel,
LLC, 176 F.3d 904, 907 (6th Cir. 1999)). The Court
initially had jurisdiction on this basis; Plaintiff is a
citizen of Virginia, and Defendants are not. The addition of
a fellow Virginian as a defendant, however, destroyed
diversity jurisdiction, and Plaintiff concedes as much.
Plaintiff seeks now to restore the Court's ability to
hear the case by dismissing Meyer from the suit under Rule
21-a dismissal Defendants oppose.
instructs that “[m]isjoinder of parties is not a ground
for dismissing an action, ” and “the court may at
any time, on just terms, add or drop a party.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. Before a court may dismiss a party under
this rule, however, it must consider two questions: (1) Is
the to-be-dismissed party indispensable to the action? (2)
Would a defendant suffer “plain legal prejudice”
if the party is dismissed? See Mayfield v. London
Women's Care, PLLC, No. 15-19- DLB, 2015 WL 3440492,
at *3 (E.D. Ky. May 28, 2015) (citing Newman-Green, Inc.
v. Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 838 (1989)).
the former, Rule 21 allows a district court to drop a
non-diverse party to retain diversity jurisdiction if that
party's presence in the action is not required under Rule
19. Iwan v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc., No.
1:15-CV-2540, 2016 WL 2898034, at *1 (N.D. Ohio May 18, 2016)
(citing Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. City of White House,
Tenn., 36 F.3d 540, 545 (6th Cir. 1994). A party is
“required” under Rule 19 if: “(1) complete
relief cannot be given to existing parties in his absence;
(2) disposition in his absence may impair his ability to
protect his interest in the controversy; or (3) his absence
would expose existing parties to substantial risk of double
or inconsistent obligations.” Id.
19 does not mandate the party's inclusion in the action,
the court then assesses whether the party's dismissal
would work “plain legal prejudice” on the
remaining defendants. Wilkerson v. Brakebill, No.
3:15-CV-435-TAV-CCS, 2017 WL 401212, at *3 (E.D. Tenn. Jan.
30, 2017). To that end, the court considers “(1) the
defendants' effort and expense of preparation for trial,
(2) excessive delay and lack of diligence on plaintiff's
part in prosecuting the case, (3) insufficient explanation
for the need for dismissal, and (4) whether a motion for
summary judgment is pending.”Id. (quoting
Rosenthal v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 217
Fed.Appx. 498, ...