United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. BRACK SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Alice Leonnet (Plaintiff) was injured by a runaway cart in
the parking lot of a Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. (Sprouts).
She filed suit in state court against Sprouts and Hajjar
Management Company, Inc. (Hajjar), the company that owns and
operates the parking lot outside the Sprouts store. Plaintiff
later added Mr. Alan Wentworth as a defendant, a New Mexico
resident who she thought managed the Sprouts location.
Sprouts removed the lawsuit to this Court and argues that
Plaintiff fraudulently joined Mr. Wentworth to defeat
diversity jurisdiction. Sprouts has moved to dismiss Mr.
Wentworth (and any manager Plaintiff might name). Plaintiff
denies that she fraudulently joined Mr. Wentworth and has
moved to file a Second Amended Complaint to correct the name
of the general manager.
considered the submissions of the parties and the relevant
law, the Court finds that Mr. Wentworth is an improper party,
that Plaintiff did not fraudulently join the general manager,
and that Plaintiff should be allowed to amend her complaint
to join the correct general manager. Because the new manager
is a New Mexico citizen, this case must be remanded to state
September 3, 2016, Plaintiff, a resident of New Mexico, was
struck and injured by a runaway cart in the parking lot of
Sprouts, a national grocery store chain. (Doc. 27-A (2d Am.
Compl.) ¶¶ 1-2, 9.) The cart was dislodged from the
shopping cart corral when another shopper pulled a cart from
the corral and entered Sprouts. (Id. ¶ 10.)
Plaintiff alleges that there is a defect in the design or
operation of Sprouts's cart corral and/or entryway, in
Sprouts's policies and procedures for controlling carts
(or the lack thereof), and/or in the design of Hajjar's
parking lot that allows shopping carts to be pulled loose and
roll toward pedestrians in the parking lot. (Id.
¶ 11.) Plaintiff further alleges in her Second Amended
Complaint that Sprouts, its general manager, and Hajjar all
knew about these defects but took no action to correct the
issues. (See Id. ¶¶ 17-18.) Plaintiff
asserts that Sprouts and its general manager have
“control and authority over” the following:
a. Where the carts were stored;
b. How the entryway to the Store was monitored and managed;
c. How the entryway was constructed or designed including the
slope of that entryway;
d. Whether the Store could or should place barriers or guides
in the cart corral to mitigate the risk of runaway carts[;
e. Whether Sprouts took any action to work with Defendant
Hajjar to address the issue of [runaway] carts once such
carts left the entryway and rolled into the parking lot.
(See Id. ¶¶ 14-16.)
filed her original complaint against Sprouts and Hajjar in
the Second Judicial District Court, County of Bernalillo,
State of New Mexico, on August 12, 2018. (See Doc.
1-A.) Sprouts is a Delaware corporation with its principle
place of business in Arizona. (See 2d Am. Compl.
¶ 3.) Hajjar is a Massachusetts corporation with its
principle place of business in Massachusetts. (Id.
¶ 4.) Plaintiff did not originally name Sprouts's
general store manager as a defendant. (See Doc.
1-A.) She filed a notice of errata to correct the case
caption on September 23, 2018, and an unopposed motion for
the same purpose on September 26, 2018. See Leonett
[sic] v. Sprouts Farmers Market Inc.,
D-202-CV-201805970, Notice (N.M. 2d Jud. Dist. Ct., Sept. 23,
2018) & Mot. (N.M. 2d Jud. Dist. Ct., Sept. 26, 2018)
(moving to correct Plaintiff's last name in the case
caption). On October 2, 2018, counsel for Sprouts emailed
counsel for Plaintiff to provide notice that Sprouts planned
to remove the lawsuit to federal court. (See Doc.
28-A.) On October 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed her First Amended
Complaint in state court and added Mr. Wentworth, who she
believed was the general manager of Sprouts. (See
Doc. 1-B (1st Am. Compl.) at 1 & ¶ 6.) Mr. Wentworth
is also a resident of New Mexico. (See Id. ¶
removed the lawsuit to this Court on October 26, 2018.
(See Doc. 1.) Sprouts contends that Plaintiff
fraudulently joined Mr. Wentworth to defeat diversity
jurisdiction. (See id. at 3.) Sprouts moves to
dismiss Mr. Wentworth because it asserts he was not the
general manager at the time of the incident (see
Doc. 7) and a motion to dismiss any manager on the
basis of fraudulent joinder (see Doc. 6). Plaintiff
opposes both motions and moves to amend her complaint to name
the correct general manager (Mr. Nathan Garcia).
(See Docs. 19; 20; 27.)
The Court will grant the motion to dismiss Mr. Wentworth as
an improper party and deny the motion to dismiss ...