United States District Court, D. Connecticut
SHANSHAN SHAO, HONGLIANG CHU, QIAN LIU, SONG LU, AND XINSHAN KANG, Plaintiffs,
BETA PHARMA, INC., AND DON ZHANG, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON SUBJECT MATTER
JURISDICTION HAIGHT, Senior District Judge:
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. Senior United States District Judge
Memorandum and Order, the Court performs a task the Second
Circuit lays upon the judiciary in Wight v. BankAmerica
Corp., 219 F.3d 79, 90 (2d Cir. 2000):
"Irrespective of how the parties conduct their case, the
courts have an independent obligation to ensure that federal
jurisdiction is not extended beyond its proper limits."
obligation arises in the captioned case, a civil action
alleging claims for breach of contract and tort, which the
five Plaintiffs filed in the Connecticut Superior Court,
Judicial District of New Haven, and the two Defendants
thereafter removed to this Court. The sole basis for removal
identified by Defendants was complete diversity of
citizenship between the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
case presents circumstances which require the Court to
conduct an inquiry to ensure that the proper limits of
diversity jurisdiction have not been exceeded. If they have
been exceeded, the case will be remanded to State court. If
complete diversity is sufficiently alleged and clearly
present, the case will go forward in this Court.
are three motions pending sub judice in this action.
Decision will be stayed awaiting further Order because the
Court raises sua sponte the question whether
complete diversity of citizenship exists in the case. That is
the only basis asserted by Defendants for their removal of
the case from the Connecticut state court where Plaintiffs
filed it ("the State Action").
circumstances giving rise to the Court's inquiry are as
follows. According to the State Action complaint, the five
individual Plaintiffs are investors in a "privately
owned organization" (Plaintiffs' phrase) under the
laws of the People's Republic of China called Zhejiang
Beta Pharma Co., Ltd. ("Zhejiang" or
"ZBP"). ZBP is affiliated with the corporate
Defendant in this case, Beta Pharma, Inc. ("Beta"
or "BP"). The individual Defendant, Don Zhang, is
alleged to be the majority stockholder and president of BP,
and the vice-president and a director of ZBP. Plaintiffs
assert claims for breach of contract and tort against both
to Defendants' Notice of Removal to this Court [Doc. 1],
after Plaintiffs served Defendants with copies of the summons
and complaint on July 14, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their
complaint in the Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial
District of New Haven, commencing the State Action on July
25, 2014. The complaint, included as Exhibit A to Doc. 1
[Doc. 1-1] and dated July 10, 2014, was signed four days
before service of copies was made on Defendants, on July 14,
2014. The case docket in the Connecticut state action
indicates that the complaint was filed with the summons and
return of service on July 25, 2014, officially commencing the
State Action. Removal by Defendants to this federal
court on August 13, 2014, was timely under 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b) in that it was filed within 30 days after Defendants
were served on July 14, 2014.
stated supra, Defendants' Notice of Removal
indicates that the sole basis for this Court's subject
matter jurisdiction is "diversity of citizenship"
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Doc. 1, at 2.
to Article III of the Constitution, a federal court may only
exercise subject matter jurisdiction where either: (1) the
plaintiff sets forth a colorable claim arising under the
Constitution or federal statute, creating "federal
question" jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or (2)
there is complete diversity of citizenship between all
plaintiffs and all defendants and the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1). Upon review of the complaint, it appears
that the only potential basis for subject matter jurisdiction
is diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
Specifically, the only claims included are state law causes
of action (i.e., breach of contract, negligent
misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and breach
of fiduciary duty). There are no claims arising pursuant to
federal statute or the United States Constitution.
respect to diversity, Defendants' Notice of Removal
alleges that as to each of the first two Plaintiffs (Shanshan
Shao and Hongliang Chu), he "is a resident of
Connecticut." The summons in the State Action recites
the street address of "247 Lookout Road, New Milford, CT
06460" as the current address for both Shao and Chu. The
Notice of Removal alleges that Plaintiff Qian Liu is "a
resident of Kirkland, Quebec, Canada"; the summons
recites a street address of "3 Place Dubonnet, Kirkland,
QC, Canada." The Notice of Removal alleges that
Plaintiff Song Lu is "a resident of Beijing,
People's Republic of China"; the summons recites a
street address in Beijing. The Notice of Removal alleges that
Plaintiff Kinshan Kang is "a resident of Fuzhou,
People's Republic of China"; the summons recites a
street address in Fuzhou. The pleadings do not contain any
allegation or representation of the citizenship of
any of these five individual Plaintiffs.
Defendant Beta Pharma, the summons in the State Action,
served on July 14, 2014, recites a street address of "5
Vaughn Drive, Suite 106, Princeton, N.J. 08540 c/o Secretary
of State, 30 Trinity Street, Hartford CT 06106." The
State Action complaint, filed 11 days later on July 25, 2014,
alleges at ¶ 1 that Beta Pharma "is a privately
owned Delaware corporation with a principal place of business
in Branford, Connecticut." The Notice of Removal, filed
on August 13, 2014, alleges that Beta Pharma "formerly
had a principal place of business in Connecticut, but moved
its principal place of business to New Jersey in January
2013, before the filing of the Removed Action." The
pleadings contain no allegation or representation of the
state(s) of incorporation of ...