Richard Ventura et al v. Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO)
MINUTES (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER DENYING Plaintiffs Motion to Remand 15 ; and ORDER GRANTING Motion to Compel UIM Arbitration and to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Stay Action Pending Completion of UIM Arbitration by Defendant Government Employees Insurance Company 16 and 17 by Judge John F. Walter: Plaintiffs Motion to Remand is DENIED, and GEICOs Motion to Compel Arbitration is GRANTED. The Court DISMISSES this action without prejudice. In light of this Order, the Court VACATES its January 12, 2017 Text Entry Order. (MD JS-6. Case Terminated.) (jp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL
CV 16-8441-JFW (GJSx)
Richard Ventura, et al. -v- Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO)
Date: January 13, 2017
HONORABLE JOHN F. WALTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR PLAINTIFFS:
PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS):
ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR DEFENDANTS:
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO REMAND
[filed 12/15/16; Docket No. 15]; and
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL UIM
ARBITRATION AND TO DISMISS OR,
ALTERNATIVELY, STAY ACTION PENDING
COMPLETION OF UIM ARBITRATION BY DEFENDANT
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY
(“GEICO”) [filed 12/19/16; Docket Nos. 16 and 17]
On December 15, 2016, Plaintiffs Richard Ventura and Phyllis Ventura (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) filed a Motion to Remand. On December 30, 2016, Defendant Government
Employees Insurance Company (“GEICO”) filed an Opposition. On December 19, 2016, GEICO
filed a Motion to Compel UIM Arbitration and to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Stay Action Pending
Completion of UIM Arbitration (“Motion to Compel Arbitration”). Plaintiffs did not file an Opposition.
Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court finds
that this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing calendared for
January 23, 2017 is hereby vacated and the matter taken off calendar. After considering the
moving and opposing papers, and the arguments therein, the Court rules as follows:
Factual and Procedural History
On August 24, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against
GEICO. On November 14, 2016, GEICO removed this action to this Court, alleging that this Court
has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
Initials of Deputy Clerk sr
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Motion to Remand
A motion to remand is the proper procedure for challenging removal. See N. Cal. Dist.
Council of Laborers v. Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co., 69 F.3d 1034, 1038 (9th Cir.1995). The
removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right of removal is resolved in favor
of remand. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.1992); see also Prize Frize, Inc. v.
Matrix, Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir.1999). Consequently, if a plaintiff challenges the
defendant’s removal of a case, the defendant bears the burden of establishing the propriety of the
removal. See Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566; see also Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th
Cir.1996) (citations and quotations omitted) (“Because of the Congressional purpose to restrict the
jurisdiction of the federal courts on removal, the statute is strictly construed, and federal jurisdiction
must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.”).
In their Motion to Remand, Plaintiffs argue that this action should be remanded to Los
Angeles Superior Court because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000. However,
in the Complaint, Plaintiffs clearly state that “[a]s a direct and proximate result of the breach by
Defendant GEICO, Plaintiff VENTURA has suffered damages of no less than $75,000.” Complaint,
¶ 23. In addition, Plaintiffs’ Statement of Damages claim $1.2 million in damages. December 30,
2016 Declaration of Suzanne Y. Badawi [Docket No. 19-1], Exh. 1. Therefore, the Court concludes
that the amount in controversy does exceed $75,000, and this Court has subject matter jurisdiction
over this action. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand is DENIED.
Motion to Compel Arbitration
Pursuant to Local Rule 7-9, Plaintiffs were required to file and serve their Opposition or
Notice of Non-Opposition “not later than twenty-one (21) days before the date designated for the
hearing of the motion.” See Local Rule 7-9. Local Rule 7-12 provides that “[t]he failure to file any
required document, or the failure to file it within the deadline, may be deemed consent to the
granting . . . of the motion.” See Local Rule 7-12. As of January 12, 2017, Plaintiffs have not filed
an Opposition to GEICO’s Motion to Compel Arbitration. Pursuant to Local Rule 7-12, the Court
deems Plaintiffs’ failure to file an Opposition or to otherwise comply with Local Rule 7-9 as consent
to the granting of GEICO’s Motion to Compel Arbitration.
Accordingly, GEICO’s Motion to Compel Arbitration is GRANTED, and the Court
DISMISSES this action without prejudice.
For all the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand is DENIED, and GEICO’s Motion
to Compel Arbitration is GRANTED. The Court DISMISSES this action without prejudice. In light
of this Order, the Court VACATES its January 12, 2017 Text Entry Order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Initials of Deputy Clerk sr
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