A suit involving a Virginia resident allegedly injured when her car was struck by a vehicle owned by an Ohio company and driven by a man who now lives in Greece was properly removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
Susan P. Hollenbeck, a Virginia resident, was injured in an accident involving her vehicle and a truck driven by Emmanuel Trikilis. Trikilis’ truck was licensed in the State of Ohio and owned by Elite Contractors Inc.
Hollenbeck filed the instant action against Trikilis and Elite claiming that the accident resulted from negligence and recklessness on the part of Trikilis, that Trikilis was operating the truck within the scope of his employment with Elite and that Elite is vicariously liable for Trikilis’ negligent and reckless conduct. Hollenbeck seeks to recover damages in the amount of $750,000.
The defendants removed the action to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction alleging that “[a]t the time the Complaint was filed, [Trikilis] was an Ohio resident.” The defendants further allege that Elite “was a corporation with its principal place of business in Campbell, Ohio,” and that Elite “remains an Ohio corporation.”
Hollenbeck filed a response to the notice of removal admitting that she is a resident of Virginia and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. However, Hollenbeck refuses to admit that complete diversity of citizenship exists between the parties, and instead “calls for strict proof thereof.”
The defendants construed Hollenbeck’s response as a motion to remand, and filed a brief in opposition and accompanying exhibits. The exhibits include police and state court records listing an Ohio address for Trikilis, as well as a notice certifying that service was perfected upon Trikilis through the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as the statutory agent for a “nonresident motor vehicle operator.” The defendants’ brief also indicates that Trikilis has been in Greece since the action was filed.
Upon review of the parties’ submissions, matters of public record and applicable law, the court concludes that the defendants have met their burden of demonstrating that complete diversity exists between the parties and that neither defendant is a citizen of Virginia. Public records from the Ohio Secretary of State and the Virginia State Corporation Commission confirm that Elite is incorporated in Ohio and maintains its principal place of business there.
Likewise, the defendants’ exhibits support a finding that Trikilis is domiciled outside of Virginia, and Hollenbeck has offered no evidence that would suggest otherwise. Even assuming that Trikilis intends to remain in Greece permanently or indefinitely, the exercise of diversity jurisdiction would still be appropriate.
Plaintiff’s motion to remand denied.
Hollenbeck v. Trikilis, Case No. 19-cv-00676, Feb. 21, 2020. WDVA at Roanoke (Conrad). VLW 020-3-118. 4 pp.