Chien v. Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc.
A law firm's principal place of business is its "nerve center" or main headquarters, as opposed to the location of branch offices in Connecticut. The plaintiff, Andrew Chien, sued the defendants, Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc., Dr. Richard Freer and the law firm of LeClairRyan P.C., in Connecticut Superior Court, alleging abuse of process, unjust enrichment and malicious prosecution. The defendants removed the suit to the U.S. District Court. The plaintiff, who is a resident of Connecticut, moved to remand to Connecticut Superior Court and argued that although Freer is a resident of Virginia, LeClair Ryan P.C. is a Connecticut corporation, because it has offices in Hartford and New Haven. The defendants objected that they met the requirements of federal diversity jurisdiction. District courts have original jurisdiction of civil actions, if the matter in controversy is more than $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs, and the controversy is between citizens of different states. "When a plaintiff sues more than one defendant in a diversity action, the plaintiff must meet the requirements of the diversity statute for each defendant or face dismissal," pursuant to Bounds v. Pine Belt Mental Health Care Resources, a 2010 decision of the 2nd Circuit. A corporation's principal place of business is its "nerve center" or main headquarters. The court found that the law firm of LeClairRyan is a citizen of Virginia, because it is incorporated in Virginia, its headquarters are located in Virginia, and its principal place of business is in Virginia. Diversity of citizenship exists because Chien is a citizen of Connecticut, the defendants are citizens of Virginia and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. The defendants did not act improperly, when they removed Chien's suit to the U.S. District Court, and the court denied the plaintiff's motion to remand and his motion for sanctions.