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Kauders v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 7, 2017

CHRISTOPHER P. KAUDERS, LEE C. S. KAUDERS, and HANNAH KAUDERS, Plaintiffs,
v.
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., and RASIER LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

          F. DENNIS SAYLOR IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a claim for disability discrimination arising out of the alleged refusal of certain Uber drivers to permit a guide dog to accompany a visually-impaired rider. The matter was filed in state court and removed to this Court on the basis of diversity of citizenship.

         Plaintiffs have moved to remand on the ground that diversity has not been established. For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         Christopher Kauders, a Massachusetts resident, is legally blind. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 6).[1] He uses a guide dog for assistance and his impaired vision prevents him from qualifying for a driver's license. (Id. ¶ 6).

         Uber Technologies, Inc., is an online transportation network company with a mobile software application for smartphones that enables customers to submit trip requests for transportation in Uber vehicles. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 8). Rasier LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber. (Id. ¶ 5).

         According to the complaint, Kauders frequently relies on Uber to travel, including for work purposes. (Id. ¶ 11). He has taken more than 100 rides with Uber drivers since opening an account with the company in 2014. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 15). His guide dog accompanied him on approximately half of those rides. (Id. ¶ 17).

         The complaint alleges that on three separate occasions between the dates of August, 26, 2015, and March 25, 2016, Kauders was denied service by Uber when its drivers refused to allow his guide dog into their vehicles. (Id. ¶ 9). His wife Lee and daughter Hannah witnessed one of those occasions. (Id. ¶ 33). According to the complaint, Kauders, his wife, and his daughter have all suffered significant emotional distress as a result of the alleged discrimination. (Id. ¶¶ 45-49).

         On February 2, 2016, Kauders filed a complaint against Uber with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”). (Id. ¶ 50). Of February 22, 2016, the MCAD issued a letter to Kauders informing him that he had exhausted his administrative remedies and could file a civil suit. (Id. ¶ 51 & Ex. B).

         On April 28, 2016, plaintiffs served a demand letter on Uber pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, § 9. (Id. ¶ 66). After receiving an extension to the 30-day response deadline, Uber responded on June 15, 2016, denying any liability and stating that plaintiffs' allegations failed to demonstrate that Uber's policies and procedures were unlawful. (Id. ¶ 67).

         On July 12, 2016, Kauders filed a complaint in Massachusetts state court asserting claims against Uber and Rasier for the violation of Massachusetts anti-discrimination law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 98A (Count 1); the intentional infliction of emotional distress on behalf of Kauders himself (Count 2), as well as on behalf of Lee and Hannah Kauders (Count 3); and the violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A (Count 4).

         On August 15, 2016, defendants removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Defendants' notice of removal stated that plaintiffs are Massachusetts residents, and that defendant Uber is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in California. It is also alleged that and defendant “Rasier, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber” and that Rasier “is a foreign limited liability company organized under the laws of the state of Delaware with its principal place of business in San Francisco, California.” (Notice of Removal at 2). The notice of removal said nothing about the members of Rasier or their citizenship.

         On August 25, 2016, plaintiffs filed a motion to remand, contending that defendants had failed to adequately establish diversity of citizenship and that they had failed to attach the summons served on Uber to their notice of removal. For the reasons stated below, that motion will be denied.

         II. L ...


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