Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MASTERSON-COOK v. CRISS BROS. IRON WORKS

October 20, 1989

BARBARA MASTERSON-COOK, Individually and as Personal Representative and Next of Kin to WILLIAM COOK, Plaintiff,
v.
CRISS BROTHERS IRON WORKS, INC., HARKLESS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., KENNETH GOODE, and JAMES GIBBS, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS

 STANLEY S. HARRIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This action arises from a traffic accident on Kenilworth Road in Bladensburg, Maryland. The individual defendants, Kenneth Goode and James Gibbs, were drivers of the colliding vehicles and employees of the corporate defendants, Criss Brothers Iron Works, Inc. (hereinafter Criss), and Harkless Construction Company, Inc. (hereinafter Harkless), respectively. Plaintiff's deceased husband was a passenger in the vehicle driven by defendant Gibbs of Harkless.

 Defendants move to dismiss on a variety of jurisdictional grounds. Defendant Criss moves to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, insufficiency of service of process, and improper venue. In the alternative, Criss moves for transfer of the action to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland for the convenience of the parties and witnesses. Defendants Harkless and James Gibbs move to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction over the person. Considering defendants' memoranda of support and plaintiff's opposition to defendants' motions, this Court hereby denies the motions to dismiss of defendants Criss and Harkless. However, the motion to dismiss of defendant Gibbs is granted.

 DISCUSSION

 The Court addresses Criss's claim first. Criss asserts: (1) claims against it should be dismissed as there is no diversity of citizenship, and thus, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction; (2) proper venue is lacking; (3) plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and (4) plaintiff's service of process was insufficient.

 First, defendant Criss contends that diversity of citizenship between all the plaintiffs and all the defendants does not exist because Criss is licensed to do business and does business in the District of Columbia. The Court finds defendant's reasoning unpersuasive. Criss is incorporated under the laws of Maryland and plaintiff resides in the District of Columbia.

 Section 1332(c) provides that "a corporation shall be deemed a citizen of any State by which it has been incorporated and of the State where it has its principal place of business." Plaintiff alleges that Bladensburg, Maryland, is the principal place of business for Criss. Although Criss does not deny this allegation, it contends that since it does business in the District of Columbia, diversity is destroyed. The Court disagrees. It finds that Criss's principal place of business is not in the District of Columbia, and consequently, diversity exists.

 Federal courts have applied a "nerve center of operation" test to establish the principal place of business of corporations doing business in multiple states. See Knee v. Chemical Leaman Tank Lines, Inc., 293 F. Supp. 1094 (E.D. Pa. 1968); National Spinning Co. v. City of Washington, 312 F. Supp. 958 (E.D.N.C. 1970). When no one state is clearly the center of corporate activity or accounts for a majority of the company income, the headquarters logically assumes greater importance in determination of the principal place of business. Mahoney v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co., 258 F. Supp. 500 (D. Neb. 1966), aff'd, 377 F.2d 549 (8th Cir. 1967). In this case, it is undisputed that Criss's corporate headquarters is in Maryland, the location of its corporate offices and its treasurer, Anthony Cristaldi. Since Criss's operations occur in unknown proportions in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, the corporation's headquarters is a compelling factor in the principal place of business test. Riggs v. Island Creek Coal Co., 542 F.2d 339 (6th Cir. 1976). Thus, it is clear to the Court that diversity exists.

 Defendant Criss further contends that venue is improper in the District of Columbia because its residence for venue purposes could be Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia and, consequently, diversity would be destroyed. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) provides that an action based solely on diversity may be brought "only in the judicial district where all the plaintiffs reside or all defendants reside, or in which the claim arose." The plaintiff has wide discretion in choosing a forum, and plaintiff has properly laid venue in the District of Columbia, where she resides.

 Third, defendant Criss contends that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff alleges inter alia that she has suffered loss of consortium due to negligence of the defendants. District of Columbia courts recognize loss of consortium as an actionable offense. District of Columbia v. Barriteau, 399 A.2d 563, 566 (D.C. 1979). Consequently, this Court denies defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

 Fourth, defendant Criss moves to dismiss for insufficiency of service of process. Plaintiff served process on Criss's treasurer, Anthony Cristaldi, in Bladensburg. Since Criss is subject to suit in the District of Columbia under the long-arm statute, plaintiff properly served the foreign corporation's officer pursuant to F.R.C.P. 4(d)(3). Although Criss maintained an agent for service of process in the District of Columbia, service to the corporate officer in Maryland was sufficient. Additionally, plaintiff timely served defendant's agent in the District of Columbia.

 Defendant Harkless also moved to dismiss. Harkless's motion is based on an alleged lack of personal jurisdiction. Since Harkless is not organized under the laws of the District of Columbia, plaintiff asserts jurisdiction over Harkless pursuant to the District of Columbia long-arm statute section (a)(4). D.C.Code § 13-423 (1981). Section 13-423(a)(4) provides that a District of Columbia court may assert jurisdiction over one who "causes tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission outside the District of Columbia if he regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed, or ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.