United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
AMENDED MEMORANDUM OF DECISION[*]
WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE
suit, removed from the Massachusetts Superior Court sitting
in and for the County of Middlesex, is the second episode in
this Court of the saga of Eugene Flinn (“Flinn”)
and his allegedly stolen fortune. See Flinn v. Minnesota
Life Ins. Co., Civ. A. No. 18-10868-WGY, 2018 WL
5982021, at *1 (D. Mass. Nov. 14, 2018); Notice of Removal,
Flinn v. FMR LLC, Civ. A. No. 18-10970-WGY (D. Mass.
May, 14, 2018), ECF No. 1. This Court need only make a cameo
appearance in this episode, however, because it lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over Flinn's cause. Therefore, the
Court remands the case to Massachusetts Superior Court for it
to unspool in full.
Court briefly summarizes Flinn's allegations relating to
subject matter jurisdiction. After Flinn's wife, Joyce
Flinn, passed away, his sister-in-law, Joan Oliveira
(“Oliveira”), convinced him that his wife had
left all her assets to Oliveira in a will. Compl. Jury Demand
(“Compl.”) ¶ 15, ECF No. 1-1. Flinn now
asserts that his wife passed away intestate, Compl. ¶
12, and that Oliveira stole from Flinn's estate assets
due to pass to him, Compl. ¶ 22.
alleges that Oliveira squirreled away more than $800, 000 of
Flinn's funds in Santander Bank, N.A. (“Santander
Bank”) accounts. Compl. ¶¶ 24-25. According
to Flinn, she set up a fiduciary account in Flinn's name,
using a forged power of attorney for Flinn. Compl.
¶¶ 19, 21, 24. Flinn further asserts that Santander
Bank and its holding company, Santander Holdings USA, Inc.
(“Santander Holdings” and, collectively with
Santander Bank, “Santander”) stood by while
Oliveira pillaged the account for her personal expenses.
Compl. ¶¶ 17-41. Flinn alleges that Oliveira
frittered away all the account's cash on herself, her
husband, and her mother -- and that she never once paid Flinn
from the account. Compl. ¶¶ 25-26, 41.
discovered Oliveira's alleged fraud and filed a state
court suit against her in May 2015. Compl. And Jury Demand,
Flinn v. Oliveira, Civ. A. No. 15-3581 (Mass. Super.
Ct. May 26, 2015), Dkt. No. 1. Oliveira eventually filed for
bankruptcy, leading Flinn to “recover only a fraction
of the funds stolen.” Compl. ¶¶ 45-46. Flinn
subsequently initiated this suit in Middlesex Superior Court
against Santander on June 25, 2018. Compl. 1. In this action,
Flinn alleges that Santander is liable to him for negligence,
breach of contract, various violations of Massachusetts law
governing bank deposits, conversion, breach of fiduciary
duty, and violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection
Act, Massachusetts General Laws chapter 93A (“Chapter
93A”). Compl. ¶¶ 53-149.
Flinn's complaint alleges that both Santander entities
maintain principal places of business in Boston, Compl.
¶¶ 4-6, Santander removed the case to this Court in
July 2018. Notice of Removal (“Notice”), ECF No.
1. Santander asserted that diversity jurisdiction obtained
because Santander Bank's home office is in Delaware.
Notice ¶ 5 (citing 12 U.S.C. § 1464(x);
Wachovia Bank, N.A. v. Schmidt, 546 U.S. 303, 306
(2006); Roberts v. Santander Bank, N.A., 141
F.Supp.3d 164, 165 (D. Mass. 2015) (Burroughs, J.)).
Santander neither controverted Flinn's allegation that
Santander Holdings' principal place of business is in
Boston nor claimed that Flinn fraudulently joined Santander
Holdings to destroy diversity. See generally Notice;
Compl. ¶¶ 5-6.
moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim
on October 30, 2018, Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Pl.'s
Compl., ECF No. 18, and the parties fully briefed the motion,
Defs.' Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Dismiss Pl.'s Compl.
(“Santander Mem.”), ECF No. 19; Pl.'s Mem.
Law. Supp. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Dismiss
(“Flinn's Opp'n”), ECF No. 23; Defs.'
Reply Mem. Resp. Pl.'s Mem. Law. Supp. His Opp'n
Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. (“Santander
Reply”), ECF No. 27. While Flinn did not move to
remand, he observed in his opposition to Santander's
motion to dismiss that “the Defendants do not dispute
that Santander Holdings has a principal place of business in
Massachusetts, and therefore, knew that removal was improper
in the first instance.” Flinn's Opp'n 3.
Flinn does not challenge this Court's subject matter
jurisdiction, this Court may consider the issue on its own
motion. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Miara v.
First Allmerica Fin. Life Ins. Co., 379 F.Supp.2d 20, 26
(D. Mass. 2005) (citing Wisconsin Dep't of Corr. v.
Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 392 (1998)). Here, the Court
remands the case because no party disputes that both Flinn
and Santander Holdings are Massachusetts citizens, thereby
destroying diversity. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 6. Nor does
Flinn's complaint furnish any other grounds for subject
matter jurisdiction. Cf. Flinn, 2018 WL 5982021, at
*4 (determining that the Court had diversity jurisdiction
where a federal question -- the defendants' proposed
basis of removal jurisdiction -- was absent (citing
Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, 899 F.3d 24, 32
(1st Cir. 2018)).
Notice of Removal, Santander suggests solely that diversity
of citizenship provides this Court with subject matter
jurisdiction. Notice ¶ 3 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332).
“Section 1332(a)(1) provides that this Court
‘shall have original jurisdiction over all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs, and is
between citizens of different states.'” Wolf v.
Altitude Costa LLC, Civ. A. No. 18-01422-WGY, 2018 WL
5984109, at *2 (D.P.R. Nov. 14, 2018). Where, as here, a
plaintiff sues two defendants, “the presence of but one
nondiverse party divests the district court of original
jurisdiction over the entire action.” See DCC
Operating, Inc. v. Siaca (In re Olympic Mills Corp.),
477 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Strawbridge v.
Curtiss, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267 (1806)).
Holdings and Flinn are both Massachusetts citizens, thereby
destroying complete diversity. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 6;
see also Jon Chesto, Scott Powell Is Running
Santander Under Less Stress, Boston Globe (Nov. 11,
(describing “Santander U.S. chief executive's
quarters overlooking Boston's ...