Reina Erazo v. Millard Mall Services Inc et al

Filing 9

ORDER REMANDING CASE TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT by Judge Otis D. Wright, II:The Court finds that MMS has not competently established that this Court has diversity jurisdiction over this case. Accordingly, the Court sua sponte REMANDS this case. The Clerk of Court shall close this case. cc: order, docket, remand letter to Los Angeles Superior Court, No. BC 631653. (Made JS-6. Case Terminated.) (Attachments: # 1 remand letter). (lc). Modified on 2/19/2014. (lc).

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O JS-6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 United States District Court Central District of California 8 9 10 11 REINA ERAZO, Case No. 14-cv-00893-ODW(SSx) 12 Plaintiff, v. MILLARD MALL SERVICES, INC., THE MILLARD GROUP, and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, ORDER REMANDING CASE TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT 13 14 15 Defendants. 16 On February 5, 2014, Defendant Millard Mall Services, Inc. (MMS) removed 17 this case to this Court, ostensibly invoking diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 18 1332, 1441, and 1446. But after considering MMS’s Notice of Removal, the Court 19 finds that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this action. The Court therefore 20 REMANDS this case to Los Angeles County Superior Court, case number case 21 number BC 531653. 22 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter 23 jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. 24 Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 25 375, 377 (1994). A defendant may only remove a suit filed in state court if the federal 26 court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). But 27 courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and federal 28 “jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the 1 first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party 2 seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. 3 Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Gaus, 980 F.2d at 4 566). 5 Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action presents a federal 6 question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. 7 To exercise diversity jurisdiction, a federal court must find complete diversity of 8 citizenship among the adverse parties, and the amount in controversy must exceed 9 $75,000, usually exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Alternatively, 10 diversity jurisdiction can be established under the Class Action Fairness Act 11 (“CAFA”). Under CAFA, diversity jurisdiction exists in “mass action” suits so long 12 as the following requirements are met: (1) 100 or more plaintiffs; (2) common 13 questions of law or fact between plaintiffs’ claims; (3) minimal diversity, where at 14 least one plaintiff is diverse from one defendant; (4) aggregated claims in excess of $5 15 million; and (5) at least one plaintiff’s claim exceeding $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d); 16 Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 689 (9th Cir. 2006). 17 For complete-diversity purposes, a natural person’s citizenship is “determined 18 by her state of domicile, not her state of residence.” Kantor v. Warner-Lambert Co., 19 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Jeffcott v. Donovan, 135 F.2d 213, 214 20 (9th Cir. 1943) (“Diversity of citizenship as a basis for the jurisdiction of a cause in 21 the District Court of the United States is not dependent upon the residence of any of 22 the parties, but upon their citizenship.”). 23 In its Notice of Removal, MMS asserts that “Plaintiff has been a citizen of the 24 State of California both at the time she commenced this action and also at the time of 25 removal.” (Not. of Removal ¶ 14 (citing ¶ 1 of the Complaint.) But Reina Erazo 26 avers that she is “an individual residing in the State of California.” (Comp. ¶ 1.) 27 While a party’s residence may be prima facie evidence of that party’s domicile when 28 an action is brought in federal court in the first instance, see State Farm Mut. Auto. 2 1 Ins. v. Dyer, 19 F.3d 514, 520 (10th Cir. 1994), mere residence allegations are 2 insufficient to establish citizenship on removal in light of the strong presumption 3 against removal jurisdiction. See Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857; Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567. 4 And MMS does not cite any objective facts to establish that Erazo is a 5 California citizen, such as “voting registration and voting practices, . . . location of 6 brokerage and bank accounts, location of spouse and family, membership in unions 7 and other organizations, place of employment or business, driver’s license and 8 automobile registration, and payment of taxes.” Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 750 (9th 9 Cir. 1986). The Court therefore finds that MMS has not competently established that 10 this Court has diversity jurisdiction over this case. Accordingly, the Court sua sponte 11 REMANDS this case to Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, 111 N. 12 Hill Street, Los Angeles, California 90012, case number BC 531653. See Fed. R. Civ. 13 P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter 14 jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”). The Clerk of Court shall close this 15 case. 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 February 18, 2014 19 20 21 ____________________________________ OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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