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Civil Practice — Federal Jurisdiction – Diversity – Fraudulent Joinder Claim – State Agency

Civil Practice — Federal Jurisdiction – Diversity – Fraudulent Joinder Claim – State Agency

Delaney v. CasePro, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-079-15, 6 pp.) (David Norton, J.) 9:14-cv-04355; D.S.C.

Holding: Even though the state court granted summary judgment against plaintiff on her claim against the South Carolina State Office of Veterans Affairs (SCDVA), a defendant is not fraudulently joined simply because the claims against it did not ultimately succeed.

Defendant CasePro, Inc. has failed to show that the SCDVA was fraudulently joined. The court grants plaintiff’s motion to remand to state court.

Kalvin Hunt was being treated by a CasePro employee at the Beaufort Naval Hospital. Hunt walked out of the hospital, stole a fire truck, and ran over a pedestrian – plaintiff’s decedent.

Plaintiff vigorously, albeit unsuccessfully, contested SCDVA’s motion for summary judgment in the state court. Notably, Edward Ray, the veterans’ affairs officer who accompanied Hunt to the Naval Hospital on the day of the accident, passed away before he could be deposed. In fact, he was the only person employed at the Beaufort County Veterans’ Affairs Office on the day in question. Therefore, it is entirely plausible that any evidence related to plaintiff’s claims against SCDVA died with Ray.

Additionally, four related cases filed by different plaintiffs all named SCDVA as a defendant in their initial federal complaints. These plaintiffs had no incentive to add SCDVA in order to prevent removal since they brought their claims in federal court in the first instance.

No evidence of bad faith has been presented, and this court will not presume such bad faith on the part of plaintiff’s counsel.


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