United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. NO. 28)
C. Hall, United States District Judge.
the court is plaintiff William Sherlach's Motion to
Remand (Doc. No. 28). In addition, Sherlach seeks an award of
attorney's fees. Defendants argue that the Motion to
Remand should be denied because Sherlach fraudulently joined
a non-diverse party to defeat diversity
jurisdiction. For the reasons stated below, the Motion
for Remand is GRANTED, insofar as it seeks
to remand the case, and DENIED insofar as it
seeks attorney's fees.
case arises out of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.
See Notice of Removal, Ex. 1 (Summons and Complaint)
(“Complaint”) (Doc. No. 1-1) ¶ 1. William
Sherlach (“Sherlach”), filed suit against
defendants Alex Emeric Jones, Infowars, LLC, Free Speech
Systems, LLC, Infowars Health, LLC, Prison Planet TV, LLC,
Wolfgang Halbig, Cory T. Sklanka, Genesis Communications
Network, Inc., and Midas Resources, Inc. (collectively
“defendants”), in the Superior Court, Judicial
District of Fairfield at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on July 6,
2018. Id. Sherlach alleged that defendants are
liable for (1) invasion of privacy by false light; (2)
defamation; (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress;
(4) negligent infliction of emotional distress; and (5)
violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a, et.
seq, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act
(“CUTPA”). See id. ¶¶ 329-87.
31, 2018, defendants filed a Notice of Removal. See
generally, Notice of Removal (Doc. No. 1). Defendants
argued that removal was proper because Sherlach fraudulently
joined the only non-diverse defendant, Cory Sklanka. See
Id. ¶ 18. They argued that Sherlach's
“sole purpose” in naming Sklanka as a defendant
was to “attempt to break diversity, ” see
id. ¶ 20, and that “there is no possibility,
based on the pleadings, that [Sherlach could] state a cause
of action against Mr. Sklanka in state court, ”
id. ¶ 19 (quotations and citations omitted).
August 15, 2018, Sherlach filed the Motion to Remand now
pending before this court. See generally, Motion to
Remand (Doc. No. 28). In his Memorandum of Law in Support of
the Motion to Remand (“Pl.'s Mem. in Supp.”)
(Doc. No. 29), Sherlach argued that this court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction because (1) complete diversity of
citizenship between the parties is lacking, and (2)
defendants failed to meet their burden to prove that Sklanka
was fraudulently joined. See Pl.'s Mem. in Supp.
Alex Jones, Infowars, LLC, Infowars Health, LLC, Free Speech
Systems, LLC, and Prison Planet TV, LLC filed an Opposition
to the Motion to Remand on September 28, 2018. See
Infowars Defendants' Opposition to Motion to Remand (Doc.
No. 39) at 1. Defendant Midas Resources, Inc. filed an
Opposition to the Motion to Remand on the same date. See
generally Midas Resources, Inc.'s Opposition to
Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 39). Sherlach filed an Omnibus
Reply to Defendants' Oppositions to Remand (Doc. No. 42),
on October 19, 2018.
Motion to Remand
closely related case arising out of the same facts, and
brought by different plaintiffs against the same defendants,
was also removed to this court. See Lafferty v.
Jones, 3:18-cv-1156 (JCH). Plaintiffs filed a Motion to
Remand in that case, which the court has granted in a
separate ruling. See Ruling Re: Motion to Remand
(Lafferty Doc. No. 58) (“Lafferty
Ruling”). The underlying Complaint in state court and
the briefing on the Motion to Remand in Lafferty
are, with minor exceptions, the same as those in this
case. The differences between the filings in
Lafferty and those in this case do not alter the
court's reasoning in its Lafferty Ruling. The
court incorporates the Lafferty Ruling here and, for
the reasons stated therein, Sherlach's Motion to Remand
(Doc. No. 28), is granted insofar as it seeks to remand the
case to the Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield,
at Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Costs, Expenses, and Attorney's Fees
addition to seeking remand, Sherlach has requested that the
court award him just costs and attorney's fees. The
plaintiffs in Lafferty also requested just costs and
fees; the court denied that request in the Lafferty
Ruling. For the reasons stated in the Lafferty
Ruling, Sherlach's request for costs and fees is denied.