United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
CHRISTOPHER P. KAUDERS, LEE C. S. KAUDERS, and HANNAH KAUDERS, Plaintiffs,
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., RASIER LLC, and JORGE MUNERA, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge
a claim for disability discrimination under Massachusetts
state law, 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
removal, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), adding a non-diverse defendant-Jorge
Munera, one of the Uber drivers alleged to have engaged in
discriminatory conduct. Munera is a Massachusetts resident
whose joinder, if proper, would destroy diversity
jurisdiction. Defendants have moved to dismiss Munera as a
fraudulently joined party. For the reasons stated below, that
motion will be denied and the action will be remanded to
Kauders, a Massachusetts resident, is legally blind. (Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 1, 8). He uses a guide dog for assistance
and his impaired vision prevents him from qualifying for a
driver's license. (Id. ¶ 9).
Technologies, Inc., is an online transportation network
company. It features a mobile software application for
smartphones that enables customers to submit trip requests
for transportation in private vehicles. (Id. ¶
10). Rasier LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber, contracts
with drivers for Uber and imposes certain requirements on
those drivers concerning their duties and vehicles.
to the complaint, Kauders frequently relies on Uber to
travel, including for work purposes. (Id.
¶¶ 12-16). He has taken more than 100 rides with
Uber drivers since opening an account with the company in
2014. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 16). His guide dog
accompanied him on approximately half of those rides.
(Id. ¶ 17).
complaint alleges that on three separate occasions between
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. ¶¶ 12, 28,
37, 45). His wife Lee and daughter Hannah witnessed one of
those occasions. (Id. ¶ 37). According to the
complaint, Kauders, his wife, and his daughter have all
suffered emotional distress as a result of the alleged
discrimination. (Id. ¶¶ 49, 52-53).
February 2, 2016, Kauders filed a complaint against Uber with
the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
(“MCAD”). (Id. ¶ 54). However,
because Kauders serves on the MCAD Advisory Board, MCAD
determined that it could not investigate his allegations due
to concerns about a conflict of interest. (Id.
¶ 55). Instead, on February 22, 2016, MCAD issued a
letter to Kauders informing him that the case was
administratively closed, that his administrative remedies
were considered exhausted, and that he could file a civil
suit. (Id. ¶ 55 & Ex. B).
April 28, 2016, plaintiffs served a demand letter on Uber and
Rasier pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, § 9.
(Id. ¶ 122). After receiving an extension to
the 30-day response deadline, Uber and Rasier 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. ¶ 124).
12, 2016, Kauders filed a complaint in Massachusetts state
court asserting claims against Uber and Rasier for (1)
violation of Massachusetts anti-discrimination law, Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 98A; (2) intentional infliction of
emotional distress; and (3) violation of the Massachusetts
consumer protection law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A.
August 15, 2016, defendants removed the action to this court
on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. On August 25, 2016,
plaintiffs filed a motion to remand, contending that
defendants had failed to establish diversity of citizenship
and that they had failed to attach the summons served on Uber
to their notice of removal. That motion was
September 9, 2016, defendants filed a motion pursuant to 9
U.S.C. §§ 3, 4 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) to compel
arbitration and dismiss the action. On September 30-that is,
21 days later-plaintiffs filed an amended complaint pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B). The amended complaint added
Jorge Munera, one of the Uber drivers who allegedly
discriminated against Kauders, as a defendant. Munera is a
resident of Massachusetts. (Am. Compl. ¶ 6). The amended
complaint, like the original complaint, asserts only
Uber and Rasier have moved to dismiss the claims against
Munera on the ground that he was fraudulently joined in order
to destroy diversity jurisdiction. For ...