United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Flor Arenivar filed this lawsuit in the Superior Court of the
District of Columbia against Defendants Clark Construction
Group, LLC (“Clark Construction”) and Manganaro
Midatlantic, LLC (“Manganaro”), the general
contractor and a subcontractor, respectively, of a
construction project on which she worked, alleging that she
was sexually harassed while on the job. See ECF No.
3 at 34-47 (“Compl.”). Defendants removed the
case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction,
asserting that Clark Construction, the only defendant with an
individual member that resides in the District of Columbia
with Arenivar, was fraudulently joined. ECF No. 1
(“Removal Not.”). Arenivar has moved to remand
the case back to Superior Court, arguing that Clark
Construction is a proper party. ECF No. 14; see also
ECF No. 14-1 (“Remand Br.”); ECF No. 16
(“Remand Opp.”); ECF No. 17 (“Remand
Reply”). For the reasons explained below,
Arenivar's Motion to Remand is GRANTED.
to her complaint, in May 2016, Arenivar began working as a
laborer at the construction site for the Museum of the Bible
(the “Site”). Compl. ¶¶ 6-7. Clark
Construction was the general contractor for the Site, and
Manganaro was a subcontractor that performed drywall
installation. Remand Br. at 1. Arenivar alleges that she was
repeatedly sexually harassed and retaliated against by one of
her direct supervisors, a Manganaro employee, before being
terminated. Compl. ¶¶ 9, 10-41; ECF No. 15
(“Arenivar Decl.”) ¶ 6; Removal Not. ¶
26; Remand Opp. at 2.
October 18, 2017, Arenivar filed this lawsuit in D.C.
Superior Court. Compl. She asserts claims under the District
of Columbia Human Rights Act (“DCHRA”) for
discrimination, D.C. Code § 2-1402.11, and retaliation,
D.C. Code § 2-1402.61, against both Clark Construction
and Manganaro. Compl. ¶¶ 51-64.
January 4, 2018, Defendants removed the case to federal court
on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Removal Not.
¶¶ 9-11. The parties do not appear to dispute the
facts each has set forth regarding the citizenship of the
parties. Arenivar is a resident of the District of Columbia.
Compl. ¶ 1. The sole member of Clark Construction Group,
LLC is Clark Construction, LLC. Id. ¶ 3. Clark
Construction, LLC has three individual members, two of whom
reside in Virginia and one of whom-like Arenivar-resides in
the District of Columbia. Id. ¶ 3; Removal Not.
¶ 20. The sole member of Manganaro Midatlantic, LLC is
Manganaro North America LLC. Compl. ¶ 2; ECF No. 16-1
(“Second Douglas Decl.”) ¶ 3. Manganaro
North America LLC has two individual members. Second Douglas
Decl. ¶ 4. One resides in Massachusetts, and the other
in Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 5-6.
assert that Clark Construction was fraudulently joined to
prevent removal, and that it was “never
[Arenivar's] employer in any respect.” Removal Not.
¶ 20; see also Id. ¶¶ 12-19, 21-29.
Furthermore, they argue that if Clark Construction were
disregarded for jurisdictional purposes, the remaining
parties would be completely diverse, as is required for
diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
might be expected, the parties do not agree on the role Clark
Construction played in Arenivar's employment. Arenivar
avers in a declaration that Manganaro employees were her
direct supervisors on “most days, ” but that
Clark Construction “controlled” the Site and
“had the ultimate power” to control
Arenivar's assignments on a daily basis. Arenivar Decl.
¶¶ 2, 6. Moreover, she alleges that Clark
Construction occasionally assigned her to a work crew
cleaning up debris “that had no relation to
Manganaro's drywall work.” Id. ¶ 2.
She also states that Clark Construction provided her
workplace safety training on her first day on the job, hosted
monthly meetings to discuss safety and project timelines, and
could send home employees who violated Clark
Construction's workplace safety rules. Id.
¶¶ 3-5. And while Manganaro paid Arenivar directly,
she argues that Clark Construction “indirectly
funded” her compensation as the general contractor for
the project. Remand Br. at 6. Finally, Arenivar alleges that
after she was terminated, she spoke with a Clark Construction
field superintendent, who relayed her complaint of sexual
harassment to Clark Construction's Vice President of
Human Resources. Compl. ¶¶ 44, 47.
response, Defendants note that Manganaro hired and paid
Arenivar. ECF No. 1-1 (“Douglas Decl.”)
¶¶ 6-7. They also argue that Clark Construction
“did not direct the day-to-day work of Manganaro
employees” or have the power to control work
assignments. ECF No. 16-2 (“Reedy Decl.”) ¶
11. Moreover, Manganaro employees supervised Arenivar on all
but a few days. Remand Opp. at 2. Indeed, all of the
supervisors identified by name in her Complaint- Odel
Quintero, Mark Shelton, Ramon Padron, and Steve
Armstrong-were employed by Manganaro, not Clark Construction.
Compl. ¶¶ 26-27; Douglas Decl. ¶ 9. And
Defendants argue that, even when Manganaro employees like
Arenivar were assigned to work on the debris clean-up crew,
Manganaro determined which of its employees would be detailed
to the crew and retained all authority to hire, fire, and
discipline its employees. Remand Opp. at 2; Second Douglas
Decl. ¶¶ 8-10; Reedy Decl. ¶¶ 7-9.
Defendants also state that Manganaro never exercised its
authority to discipline Arenivar for safety violations.
Second Douglas Decl. ¶ 12; Reedy Decl. ¶ 10.
Finally, Defendants note that Arenivar's discussion with
a Clark Construction employee about her termination occurred
after she was terminated. Removal Not. ¶ 27.
Removal on the Basis of Diversity Jurisdiction
civil action filed in state court may only be removed to a
United States district court if the case could originally
have been brought in federal court.” Nat'l
Consumers League v. Flowers Bakeries, LLC, 36 F.Supp.3d
26, 30 (D.D.C. 2014) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)).
“A federal court has diversity jurisdiction when (1)
there is complete diversity of citizenship among the parties
(that is, no plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any
defendant) and (2) the ‘amount in controversy' is
greater than $75, 000.” Witte v. Gen. Nutrition
Corp., 104 F.Supp.3d 1, 4 (D.D.C. 2015) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)). “Where the district court's
jurisdiction is dependent solely on the basis of diversity of
citizenship between the parties, there must be
‘complete diversity,' meaning that no plaintiff may
have the same citizenship as any defendant.” Busby
v. Capital One, N.A., 932 F.Supp.2d 114, 130 (D.D.C.
2013) (citing Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v.
Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373-74 (1978)).
liability companies . . . carry the citizenship of each of
their members.” Simon v. Hofgard, 172
F.Supp.3d 308, 314-15 (D.D.C. 2016). “The citizenship
of the members of an LLC is traced all the way through-that
is, when a member of an LLC is itself an LLC, the citizenship
of the members of that LLC are relevant for
diversity purposes, and so on.” Jakks Pac., Inc. v.
Accasvek, LLC, 270 F.Supp.3d 191, 195 (D.D.C. 2017). An
American citizen has citizenship in a state for diversity
purposes if he is “domiciled within the state.”
Newman-Green, Inc. v. Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826,
828 (1989). One indication of domiciliary status is a
person's current residence. United States v.
Williams, 825 F.Supp.2d 117, 124 (D.D.C. 2011).
plaintiff files a motion to remand, “the removing
defendant bears the burden of proving that removal was proper
. . . .” Simon, 172 F.Supp.3d at 315. Parties
may submit evidence outside the pleadings, including
affidavits, in support of their position. Walter E.
Campbell Co. v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., Inc., 48
F.Supp.3d 53, 55 (D.D.C. 2014). “Courts in this circuit
have construed removal jurisdiction strictly, favoring remand
where the propriety of removal is unclear.” Ballard
v. District of Columbia, 813 F.Supp.2d 34, 38 (D.D.C.
2011). “When it appears that a district court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over a case that has been removed