United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
YVETTE ADELLE SANDERS, Individually and as Surviving Parent, and YVETTE ADELLE SANDERS, as Administratrix for the Estate of Andrew Thomas Spencer, deceased, Plaintiffs,
QUIKTRIP CORPORATION, and BJS QT, LLC, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on two motions related to the
Court's subject matter jurisdiction: (i) Defendants
QuikTrip Corporation (“QuikTrip”) and BJS QT,
LLC's (“BJS, ” collectively, the
“Defendants”) Brief in Support of Motion to
Dismiss BJS from this action pursuant to Rule 21 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the “Motion to
Dismiss”)  and (ii) Plaintiff's motion to
remand this action to the State Court of DeKalb County (the
“Motion to Remand”) .
Yvette Adelle Sanders (“Plaintiff”) originally
filed this wrongful death action on May 24, 2017, in the
State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia, on behalf of herself
individually and as the administratrix of the estate of
Andrew Thomas Spencer, her deceased son who was shot and
killed outside of the QuikTrip gas station located at 4050
Buford Highway in Atlanta, Georgia. (Compl. [1.1]).
alleges several acts of negligence against both Defendants,
including violations of Georgia's premises liability
statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, which imposes a duty on
owners and occupiers of land to exercise ordinary care to
keep the premises safe. (Id. ¶ 29). Plaintiff
further alleges that Defendants were negligent in failing to
inspect and maintain the QuikTrip gas station where
Plaintiff's son was killed, failing to provide adequate
lighting in the parking lot, and failing to employ other
appropriate security measures. (Id.).
states that on the date of the shooting, it was the owner and
landlord/lessor of the premises and that QuikTrip was the
tenant/lessee. (Affidavit of BJS QT, LLC [10.2] ¶ 7 (the
“BJS Affidavit”)). BJS further states that Defendant
QuikTrip fully occupied the premises, (Id.) and that
BJS did not retain any right of possession or maintenance
responsibilities on that date. (Id. ¶ 8). BJS
did not have any employees. (Id. ¶ 10).
22, 2017, Defendant QuikTrip timely filed its Notice of and
Petition for Removal  (“Notice of Removal”).
The Notice of Removal asserts that this Court has diversity
jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332. ( ¶ 7). BJS filed its Consent to Removal on
July 6, 2017. ().
12, 2017, QuikTrip filed its Amended and Supplemented Notice
of and Petition for Removal. (). QuikTrip set forth the
citizenship of Plaintiff and both Defendants for the purpose
of invoking the Court's subject matter jurisdiction.
(Id. ¶¶ 3-9). QuikTrip asserted that
Plaintiff Yevette Sanders is a citizen of Michigan.
(Id. ¶ 3). In her capacity as administratrix of
her son's estate, Plaintiff is deemed a citizen of
Georgia, the state of her decedent. (Id.; see
also 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2)). Defendant QuikTrip is
a citizen of Oklahoma because its state of incorporation and
principal place of business are in Oklahoma. ( ¶ 4).
BJS's citizenship is more complex. BJS is a limited
liability company and QuikTrip states that the members
include the California State Teachers' Retirement System
(“CSTRS”). ( ¶ 9). QuikTrip argued that
CSTRS is a citizen of California and not an alter ego of the
state of California. (Id.).
14, 2017, two days after the Amended Notice of Removal was
filed, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss , arguing
that BJS was fraudulently joined as a defendant in this
action to destroy diversity jurisdiction. Defendants argue
that BJS is an out-of-possession landlord of the premises,
cannot be held liable for any claims in this action under
Georgia law, and thus was fraudulently joined as a Defendant.
Defendants repeated their claim that CSTRS should be deemed a
citizen of California and for the first time also stated that
CSTRS may be a citizen of all states where its members are
citizens. They stated further that “Defendants
acknowledge that at this time, all members of this entity are
unknown but also acknowledges [sic] the possibility or
potential that one such member is a citizen of Georgia or
Michigan, which would destroy diversity jurisdiction.”
( at 4). QuikTrip argued that even if a member of CSTRS
defeated jurisdiction, BJS was fraudulently joined and should
be dismissed from this action.
21, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Motion to Remand  the
action to state court following Defendants' equivocation
on whether CSTRS was or was not a citizen of Georgia or
Michigan. Plaintiff argued that Defendants did not meet their
burden on removal of invoking the Court's subject matter