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Branyan v. Southwest Airlines Co.

United States District Court, District of Massachusetts

March 17, 2015

CORIAN M. BRANYAN, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

This case involves various claims made by plaintiff Corian Branyan (“Branyan”) against defendant Southwest Airlines Co. (“Southwest”), for whom she was previously employed as a customer service agent and flight attendant. Pending before the Court is plaintiff’s motion to remand the case to state court. For the reasons that follow, the motion be will denied.

I. Background

According to her complaint, Branyan resides in Plymouth County within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Southwest is a Texas corporation with its principle place of business in Dallas, Texas.

In July, 2013, Branyan suffered a work-related wrist injury and was placed on paid leave. Southwest continued to provide Branyan with paid benefits until its insurer denied her workers’ compensation claim in September, 2013.

Southwest then allegedly began harassing plaintiff and demanding reimbursement for over $4, 500 in benefits that it had provided to her while she was on leave. Southwest, inter alia, purportedly took money out of Branyan’s “sick bank” account to satisfy the debt and made repeated calls to Branyan in the months after her claim was denied. Branyan maintains that Southwest’s actions caused her severe stress and negatively affected her health and well-being.

In December, 2014, plaintiff filed this action in Massachusetts Superior Court for Plymouth County and asserted claims for 1) intentional infliction of emotional distress, 2) negligent infliction of emotional distress, 3) invasion of the right to privacy in violation of M.G.L. c. 223, § 1 and 4) bullying, abuse and harassment in violation of M.G.L. § 151G, § 1(a).[1]

Southwest timely removed the case to this Court in January, 2015. In its notice of removal, Southwest relied on diversity of citizenship to establish federal court jurisdiction. In February, 2015, Branyan moved to remand the case to state court.

Also pending but outside the scope of this Memorandum & Order is Southwest’s motion to dismiss.

II. Motion to Remand

A. Legal Standard

Federal jurisdiction predicated on diversity of citizenship requires that the case arise between “citizens of different states” and have an amount in controversy that exceeds $75, 000.[2]28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Citizenship is determined by a person’s domicile, which is itself established by showing that the individual 1) is physically present in the state and 2) has an intent to remain indefinitely. Garcia Perez v. Santaella, 364 F.3d 348, 350 (1st Cir. 2004).

The party relying on diversity jurisdiction must not only establish domicile by a preponderance of the evidence but also prove that diversity of citizenship existed ...


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