Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Gilbert orders airline company to address citizenship issue in removal request

By John Breslin | May 24, 2018

District judge Phil Gilbert ordered an airline company to try again to remove a personal injury suit from St. Clair County to federal court, requiring the defendant to address questions of citizenship. 

Allegiant Airlines claims that its principle place of business is in Nevada and that the suit should be moved from St. Clair County Circuit Court to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The low cost airline, reportedly the ninth largest commercial airline in the US, argued that the diversity of those involved means the case should be heard in federal rather than state court.

"Allegiant states that it is a citizen of Nevada for diversity purposes because it is registered and has its principal place of business in Nevada," Gilbert wrote in his order. 

However, Gilbert added that Allegiant "misstates the test for limited liability companies: The citizenship of an LLC for diversity purposes is the citizenship of each of its members.

Gilbert ordered the defendants to file an amended notice of removal addresses the citizenship issue and whether diversity jurisdiction is still proper in the case. 

The underlying case involves a Madison County woman who alleges she tripped and fell while getting off of a plane at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah.

Joan Rodney filed the complaint on Feb. 26 in the St. Clair County Circuit Court against Allegiant Air LLC and Airport Terminal Services Inc. She accuses the airline of negligence. 

In her complaint, Rodney claims that on March 14, 2016, she tripped and fell as she embarked from an Allegiant aircraft. She allegedly suffered severe and permanent injuries to her left leg and knee that resulted in pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability and medical expenses, according to the complaint.

Rodney alleges Allegiant failed to keep the boarding bridge clear and free from tripping hazards and failed to warn passengers of any danger, the complaint states.

The plaintiff seeks damages of more than $50,000, plus interest, costs and any further relief the court may deem just and proper.

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