Vanessa Marquina v. Ferguson Enterprises Inc et al

Filing 16

ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT 10 by Judge Otis D. Wright, II: cc: order, docket, remand letter to Los Angeles Superior Court, BC507624.. MD JS-6. Case Terminated. (Attachments: # 1 remand letter). (lc) .Modified on 12/5/2013 (lc).

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1 O 2 JS-6 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 VANESSA MARQUINA, 12 13 14 v. Case No. 2:13-cv-07999-ODW (AJWx) Plaintiffs, FERGUSON ENTERPRISES, INC, a Virginia corporation; and DOES 1-50, inclusive, 15 ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT [10] Defendants. 16 17 18 I. INTRODUCTION 19 On October 30, 2013, Ferguson Enterprises removed this action for the second 20 time. The Court remanded this action after the original removal because Ferguson 21 Enterprises failed to sufficiently establish diversity jurisdiction. Ostensibly, Ferguson 22 Enterprises now removes this action on the grounds that it formally discovered that 23 Marquina was a California citizen at her October1, 2013 deposition. Marquina now 24 moves to remand this action. Because the Court finds that Ferguson Enterprises’ 25 second removal is untimely, the Court GRANTS Marquina’s Motion to Remand.1 26 27 28 1 Having evaluated the papers filed in conjunction with Defendant’s Notice and Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand, Error! Main Document Only.the Court finds the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L. R. 7-15. 1 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND 2 On May 1, 2013, Marquina brought suit against Ferguson Enterprises in the Los 3 Angeles Superior Court. (Not. of Removal Ex. A.) Marquina brought six claims 4 against Ferguson Enterprises, including discrimination, violation of the California 5 Labor Code, wrongful termination, and retaliation. (Id.) On June 12, 2013, Ferguson 6 Enterprises removed this action to federal court for the first time, invoking diversity 7 jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Id. at Ex. C.) On June 26, 2013, the Court 8 remanded the action because the Notice of Removal contained insufficient allegations 9 of citizenship for diversity jurisdiction. (Id. at Ex. H.) After written discovery, 10 Ferguson Enterprises again removed the case to the Central District of California on 11 October 30, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) 12 II. LEGAL STANDARD 13 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter 14 jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. 15 Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375 16 (1994). Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action presents a federal 17 question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. 18 A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court 19 would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). However, 20 courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and “federal 21 jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first 22 instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (emphasis added). 23 The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. 24 Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006). 25 Under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), a defendant must file a notice of removal within 30 26 days from the date he first objectively learns that an action is removable. A defendant 27 may learn that an action is removable in one of two ways: through the face of the 28 initial pleadings or through the receipt “of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, 2 1 order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which 2 is or has become removable.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b); Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. 3 Co., 425 F.3d 689, 692 (9th Cir. 2005). After one year, removal is not permissible 4 regardless of the source of information. Roth v. CHA Hollywood Med. Ctr., L.P., 720 5 F.3d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 2013) III. 6 7 DISCUSSION Marquina contends that Ferguson Enterprises’ second removal of this action is 8 improper. Marquina argues that Ferguson failed to properly allege Marquina’s 9 citizenship in its original removal papers, despite possessing documents from which 10 her California citizenship was ascertainable. In the alternative, Marquina contends 11 that removal is untimely because Ferguson Enterprises did not file removal papers 12 within the 30-day limit after receiving documents from which removability was 13 ascertainable. Ferguson Enterprises argues that its second removal of this action is 14 proper and timely because the “other paper” from which removability was 15 ascertainable was Marquina’s October 1, 2013 deposition—rather than the documents 16 produced in discovery. (Opp’n 9.) The Court addresses each in turn. 17 Marquina argues that Ferguson Enterprises could and should have come 18 forward with additional evidence of her California citizenship at the time of its 19 original removal. She asserts that, as her employer, Ferguson Enterprises knew that 20 she was domiciled in California, lived with family members in California, maintained 21 a California driver’s license and bank account, paid California taxes, and collected 22 unemployment benefits from California. (Mot. 7–8.) Thus, Marquina asserts that 23 Ferguson Enterprises assertion that it did not learn that she was a California citizen 24 until October 1, 2013, is false and removal was improper. But this argument has been 25 rejected in this circuit. 26 Referring to § 1446(b), the Ninth Circuit has stated that a defendant cannot 27 remove based on its own investigation: “[T]he first thirty-day [window] is triggered 28 by defendant’s receipt of an ‘initial pleading’ that reveals a basis for removal. If no 3 1 ground for removal is evident in that pleading, the case is ‘not removable.’” Harris v. 2 Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 694 (9th Cir. 2005). If the case is not 3 removable from the complaint then the defendants must wait until a second 30-day 4 window is triggered by a change in the parties or other circumstances revealed in a 5 newly filed “paper.” 6 California citizenship at the time of its original removal is irrelevant. Id. Thus, Ferguson Enterprises knowledge of Marquina’s 7 Marquina next argues that even if Ferguson Enterprises’ knowledge of her 8 California citizenship was immaterial, its second removal was untimely. Marquina 9 asserts that on August 2, 2013, she produced numerous documents evidencing her 10 California citizenship in response to Ferguson Enterprises’ June 19, 2013 document 11 request. (Kampf Decl. ¶ 6.) These documents included Marquina’s IRS Form W-2 12 Wage and Tax Statements for the years 2009 through 2012, documents evidencing her 13 receipt of California unemployment benefits, a letter from Defendant addressed to 14 Plaintiff’s California address thanking her for 10 years of service in California, and a 15 letter indicating Plaintiff’s inclusion in a California class action settlement involving 16 Ferguson Enterprises. (Kampf Decl., at ¶¶ 7-8, Ex. B). Marquina contends that 17 Ferguson Enterprises’ receipt of these documents triggered the second 30-day removal 18 window. 19 Ferguson Enterprises contends that Marquina’s document production did not 20 begin this second 30-day window because “the documents in Plaintiff’s production 21 did not contain any new fact that was not previously before the Court in connection 22 with Defendant’s original removal.” (Opp’n 2.) The Court does not agree. 23 Ferguson Enterprises’ original Removal Petition relied solely on the allegations 24 in the Complaint to establish Diversity Jurisdiction. Marquina alleged bare residency 25 and California employment in her Complaint. (Not. Removal Ex. A.) She did not 26 mention any additional citizenship factors, such as that she lived with family in 27 California, paid California taxes, received state unemployment benefits, or 28 participated in a lawsuit in California. Indeed, the Court’s Order remanding the 4 1 original removal, the Court noted that Ferguson Enterprises could have—but did 2 not—state other facts bearing on citizenship. (Not. Removal Ex. H.) 3 Thus, the documents produced to Ferguson Enterprises on August 1, 2013, 4 contained facts that were not previously before the court. Further, the documents 5 produced established Marquina’s California citizenship—and thus that this action was 6 removable under diversity jurisdiction. See Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 7 1986) (delineating factors sufficient to establish citizenship on removal). 8 9 Accordingly, the last day by which Ferguson Enterprises could have removed this action was September 1, 2013. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a). Because Ferguson 10 Enterprises failed to file its second Notice of Removal within 30 days of receipt of 11 these documents, the Court finds Ferguson Enterprises’ removal untimely. IV. 12 CONCLUSION 13 In light of the foregoing, the Court REMANDS this case to the Los Angeles 14 County Superior Court, 111 N. Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, case number 15 BC507624. The Clerk of Court shall close this case. 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 December 5, 2013 19 20 21 ____________________________________ HON. OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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