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Brown v. Practicelink Ltd.

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield

December 5, 2017

BRIAN BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
PRACTICELINK, LTD., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID A. FABER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is plaintiff's motion to remand. ECF No. 6. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         The instant dispute centers on whether plaintiff was unlawfully terminated and subjected to workplace discrimination while employed by defendant, PracticeLink, LTD. See Complaint at ¶¶ 17-30. Brian Brown sued PracticeLink on August 25, 2017 in the circuit court of Mercer County, West Virginia. See Complaint. Defendant removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction less than a month later. See ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to state court on October 16, 2017, contending that complete diversity does not exist because PracticeLink's principal place of business is West Virginia, not Missouri. ECF No. 6. Reviewing the memoranda of plaintiff and defendant, see ECF Nos. 7 and 9, the court finds that complete diversity exists and denies plaintiff's motion to remand.

         B. PracticeLink, LTD

         According to its internet website, PracticeLink is an online physician recruitment agency connecting physicians and practitioners “in more than five thousand hospital, medical groups, and private practices nationwide.” See ECF No. 6-2. PracticeLink maintains three offices located in St. Louis, [1]Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Hinton, West Virginia. See Affidavit of Kenneth Allman, ECF No. 9-1.

         PracticeLink's internet website lists its address as Hinton, West Virginia. See ECF No. 6-2. The West Virginia Secretary of State Business and Licensing database indicates that PracticeLink's local office address, mailing address, notice of process address, and principal office address are located in Hinton. See ECF No. 6-1. The database also states that Kenneth Allman, PracticeLink's president and secretary, resides in St. Louis, Missouri. Id. Allman's affidavit also declares that he has “always maintained [his] primary office in PracticeLink's St. Louis, Missouri office.” ECF No. 9-1, ¶ 6.

         Plaintiff alleges that the St. Louis address is merely Allman's home address. See Plaintiff's Motion in Support of Remand at p. 6 (ECF No. 7). In support, plaintiff includes photographs of defendant's Hinton and St. Louis business locations. It appears that the St. Louis address is a residential building, while the Hinton address is a commercial office that includes a “PracticeLink” sign. Compare ECF No. 6-3, with ECF No. 6-4.

         While PracticeLink's client files are maintained in Hinton, WV, the business' corporate records are kept and maintained in St. Louis. See Affidavit of Brian Brown, ECF No. 6-6, ¶ 3; Affidavit of Kenneth Allman, ECF No. 9-1, ¶ 10. The parties dispute how often Mr. Allman travels to Hinton. Compare ECF No. 6-6, ¶ 4 (plaintiff: “at least a weekly basis); with ECF No. 9-1, ¶ 12 (defendant: “every 6-8 weeks”).

         As to the workplace of PracticeLink's corporate officers, the plaintiff alleges that “the department heads worked from Hinton” and attaches the Linkedin page of the Director of Human Resources & People Development at PracticeLink that states she works in Lewisburg, [2] West Virginia, see ECF 6-6 ¶ 3, ECF No. 6-5. The defendant responds that Allman (president and secretary), the chief financial officer, and chief information officer of PracticeLink maintain their primary offices in Missouri. ECF No. 9-1, ¶¶ 6-9.

         Finally, the plaintiff includes an article from the Greenbrier Valley Quarterly where Allman is quoted as follows:

“Moving the business to Hinton was out of necessity. Being able to hire family members and other people in the community allowed the business to continue to grow in a way that wouldn't have been possible for me in St. Louis, ” Allman says. “It allowed me time, and a low-cost overhead to learn from my mistakes.” Hinton gave Allman and PracticeLink a home base in a place that felt like home . . . . Now, Allman's employees span offices in five states, with more than 60 based in Hinton between PracticeLink and MountainPlex. And still, Hinton is home, using technology to serve the needs of health ...

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