United States District Court, D. Maryland
CATHERINE C. BLAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert Anthony Lay filed this action against Caesars
Enterprise Services, LLC, claiming fraud, negligence, and unfair
and deceptive trade practice in connection with the World
Series of Poker Circuit. Mr. Lay filed motions to remand this
action to state court (ECF No. 10), and for limited
jurisdictional discovery (ECF No. 16). The defendant filed
motions to dismiss (ECF No. 11), to amend/correct its notice
of removal (ECF No. 15), and for leave to file a surreply
regarding the pending motion for jurisdictional discovery
(ECF No. 23). The issues in this case have been fully
briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local R. 105.6. For
the reasons stated below, the motions to correct the notice
of removal and for leave to file a surreply will be granted.
The motions to remand to state court and for jurisdictional
discovery will be denied. The motion to dismiss will be
2013, Mr. Lay was indicted in connection with an illegal
sports gambling racket in the Western District of Oklahoma.
Compl. ¶ 16-17 (ECF No. 2). He ultimately pled guilty to
engaging in a racketeering conspiracy in violation of 18
U.S.C. 1962(d) in 2015 and was sentenced to one year of
probation, 104 hours of community service, and to pay a
special assessment of $100. Id. ¶ 19-21. He has
completed his sentence and his period of probation has ended.
Id. ¶ 22. He states that his criminal
conviction was publicly known, particularly throughout the
"gaming community." Id. ¶ 37.
currently earns a living, at least in part, as a professional
poker player. He competes in tournaments across the country.
Id. ¶ 23. In 2016, Mr. Lay participated in
several events in the World Series of Poker Circuit
("WSOPC") with the intention of qualifying for the
Global Casino Championship by earning sufficient qualifying
points through WSOPC events. Id. ¶ 27-28. One
of these events occurred at the Horseshoe Casino in
Baltimore, Maryland in April and May 2017. Id.
¶ 30. The Horseshoe Casino is owned and operated by the
defendant. Id. ¶ 31. Mr. Lay alleges that the
defendant or one of its affiliates owns and operates the
WSOPC. Id. ¶ 32.
accumulated sufficient point's in the qualifying WSOPC
events to receive an invitation to the Global Casino
Championship in August 2017. Id. ¶ 33. After he
received his invitation, however, Mr. Lay received
notification from the Caesars Entertainment Corporation that
he was banned from entry on all Caesars properties in the
United States. Id. ¶ 34; Def. Ex. 1 . (ECF No.
11-2). As the Global Casino Championship occurs at a Caesars
property, he was effectively barred from participation.
Compl. ¶ 35. Mr. Lay states that the value of the
invitation to the Global Casino Championship and the
accompanying travel and expenses is $10, 000. Id.
November 2, 2017, Mr. Lay filed suit against Caesars
Enterprises Services, LLC in the Circuit Court for Baltimore
County, Maryland. Id.; Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.
Mr. Lay sued the defendant for fraud, negligent
misrepresentation, negligence per se, and unfair and
deceptive trade practices. Compl. ¶ 39-56.
Essentially, he argues that the defendant represented through
advertisements that any person who accumulated sufficient
points at qualifying WSOPC events would earn an invitation to
the Global Casino Championship, in order to encourage
participation at the WSOPC events over other poker
competitions. In issuing the banning notice based on publicly
available information regarding his criminal conviction, Mr.
Lay alleges the defendant failed to fulfill his earned
invitation to the Global Casino Championship, making their
representations regarding WSOPC participation fraudulent
and/or negligent. Mr. Lay alleges that he suffered an injury
of $10, 000 in the lost value of participation. He asks
"in excess of $75, 000" for actual and punitive
damages on his fraud claim and $25, 000 for each of his
remaining three claims. Id.
case was removed to this court by the defendant on the basis
of diversity jurisdiction on January 10, 2018, within the
30-day period for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Mr.
Lay filed amotion to remand to state court and for
attorney's fees on January 12th. The defendant responded
with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for
lack of jurisdiction, or to transfer, on January 17th. On
January 22nd, the defendant filed a motion to amend or
correct its notice of removal and opposition to the
plaintiffs motion to remand. Mr. Lay filed a motion for
discovery on the limited question of general jurisdiction and
a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss on January
29th. He also filed a response in opposition to the motion to
amend or correct the notice of removal on February 2nd. On
February 12th, the defendant filed its reply regarding the
motion to dismiss, and a response in opposition to the motion
for discovery. On February 15th, the defendant also filed
their reply regarding the motion to amend or correct the
notice of removal. On February 24th, Mr. Lay filed his reply
regarding the motion for discovery. The defendant filed a
motion for leave to file a surreply regarding the motion for
discovery on March 12th, to which Mr. Lay filed a response on
March 24th. At no point has Mr. Lay moved to amend his
complaint, nor has he indicated in any of his motions or
briefs any intent to do so.
pending before the court are the motion to remand, the motion
to dismiss or transfer, the motion to amend or correct the
notice of removal, the motion for discovery and the motion
for leave to file a surreply. The motion for leave to file a
surreply will be granted, and the arguments made in that
surreply have been considered by the court. The other motions
will be addressed in turn.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
jurisdiction is generally limited to disputes between
"citizens of different States." 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). That limitation requires the parties to be
completely diverse, "meaning a plaintiff cannot be a
citizen of the same state as any defendant." Johnson
v. Am. Towers, LLC, 781 F.3d 693, 704 (4th Cir. 2015).
Where one of the parties is a limited liability company, that
party bears the citizenship of each of its members. If one of
those members is itself an LLC, then the party's
citizenship must "be traced through multiple levels,
" meaning that its citizenship derives from the
membership of the parent LLC, as well as its own membership.
Mut. Assignment & Indemnification Co. v. Lind-Waldock
& Co., 364 F.3d 858, 861 (7th Cir. 2004). Courts
assess the citizenship of a natural person by domicile.
See, e.g., Newman-Green, Inc. v. Alfonzo-Larrain,
490 U.S. 826, 828 (1989)
allegations of jurisdiction may be amended, upon terms, in
the trial or appellate courts." 28 U.S.C. § 1653.
After the initial thirty days in which removal and amendment
of the removal notice is permitted, "district courts
have discretion to permit amendments that correct allegations
already present in the notice of removal. Courts have no
discretion to permit amendments furnishing new allegations of
a jurisdictional basis." Wood v. Crane Co., 764
F.3d 316, 323 (4th Cir. 2014). Amendment is appropriate for
procedural or technical defects, but not jurisdictional
defects. Id; Doe v. Blair, 819 F.3d 64, 67 (4th Cir.
defendant removed this case on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. Initially, the notice of removal did not
include the citizenship of each of the members that comprise
Caesars Enterprise Services, LLC. Mr. Lay filed a motion to
remand based on this deficiency. In response, the defendant
filed a motion to amend or correct its notice of removal to
add the citizenship of all of its members. As diversity
citizenship was asserted as the basis for removal in the
initial notice of removal, the deficiency of omitting the
citizenship of each of the defendant's members
specifically was a procedural defect. See Muhlenbeck v.
KI, LLC,304 F.Supp.2d 797, 802 (E.D. Va. 2004)