McKenzie v. AT & T Services Inc., et al

Filing 31

ORDER signed by District Judge Troy L. Nunley on 2/17/2017 FINDING that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction; GRANTING 19 Motion to Dismiss; DENYING 18 Motion to Consolidate Cases as moot. CASE CLOSED. (Michel, G.)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 KIM MCKENZIE, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 No. 15-cv-02325-TLN-CKD v. ORDER AT&T SERVICES, INC. and PACIFIC BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY, Defendants. 16 17 18 This is a lawsuit petitioning the Court to vacate or modify an arbitration award. The 19 matter is before the Court on a motion filed by Defendant Pacific Bell Telephone Company 20 (“Pacific Bell”) and Defendant AT&T Services, Inc. (“AT&T”) (collectively “Defendants”) to 21 dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 19.) Plaintiff Kim McKenzie 22 (“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion. (ECF No. 24.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ 23 motion is GRANTED. In addition, Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate Cases (ECF No. 18) is 24 DENIED as moot. 25 26 I. BACKGROUND Although the history of the parties’ dispute is convoluted and contentious, the relevant 27 facts are not complicated. Plaintiff filed a petition with the Court seeking to vacate or modify an 28 arbitration award pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. §§ 10, 11. (ECF No. 1 1 1.) Several months later, she filed an amended petition superseding her original petition. (ECF 2 No. 15.) Defendants now move to dismiss the amended petition for lack of subject-matter 3 jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 19.) 4 5 II. DISCUSSION The federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possess only that power 6 authorized by the Constitution and by statute. Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1064 (2013) 7 (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Defendants assert that no 8 statute provides the Court with jurisdiction here. (ECF No. 19-1 at 8:14–10:6.) Defendants are 9 correct. 10 Plaintiff invokes both diversity and federal-question jurisdiction. Diversity jurisdiction is 11 conferred by 28 U.S.C § 1332(a) and exists when there is complete diversity between all plaintiffs 12 and all defendants. Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978). 13 “[D]iversity jurisdiction does not exist unless each defendant is a citizen of a different State from 14 each plaintiff.” Id. (emphasis in original). Federal-question jurisdiction is conferred by 28 15 U.S.C. § 1331 and exists over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of 16 the United States.” 17 Plaintiff invokes diversity jurisdiction in a roundabout fashion: on the civil cover sheet 18 filed with her original petition. (ECF No. 2.) This is puzzling for two reasons. First, Plaintiff 19 asserts diversity jurisdiction only on the civil cover sheet—she does not discuss it in either of her 20 petitions or in her opposition to Defendants’ motion to dismiss. (See ECF Nos. 1, 15, 24.) 21 Second, Plaintiff herself recognizes that the parties are not completely diverse. On the civil cover 22 sheet, Plaintiff indicated that she was a “Citizen of This State” and that at least one defendant 23 (whom she does not identify) is “Incorporated or [has its] Principal Place of Business In This 24 State.” (ECF No. 2 at 1.) Diversity jurisdiction does not exist where the parties are not 25 completely diverse. Owen Equip., 437 U.S. at 373. 26 Plaintiff invokes federal-question jurisdiction somewhat more thoroughly, but no more 27 successfully. In both her original and amended petitions, Plaintiff asserts federal-question 28 jurisdiction pursuant to the FAA. (ECF No. 1 at 6:19–7:6 (citing 9 U.S.C. §§ 10–12); ECF No. 2 1 15 at 5:3–20 (same).) That contention runs contrary to decades of Supreme Court precedent. The 2 FAA “creates a body of federal substantive law establishing and regulating the duty to honor an 3 agreement to arbitrate, yet it does not create any independent federal-question jurisdiction under 4 28 U.S.C. § 1331 . . . or otherwise.” Moses H. Cone Mem’l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 5 U.S. 1, 25 n.32 (1983); see also Southland Corp v. Keating, 465 U.S. 1, 15 n.9 (1984). 6 In her opposition, Plaintiff also refers obliquely to the Labor Management Relations Act 7 (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 141 et seq., as a possible source of federal-question jurisdiction. (See 8 ECF No. 24 at 7:7–10:28.) Specifically, Plaintiff cites authorities in which claims arising under 9 § 301 of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185, supported federal-question jurisdiction in FAA cases. (See, 10 e.g., ECF No. 24 at 7:12–13 (citing Gulf Coast Indus. Workers Union v. Exxon Co., USA, 70 F.3d 11 847, 850 (5th Cir. 1995).) But Plaintiff runs afoul of the well-pleaded complaint rule. “The 12 presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint 13 rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on 14 the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Balcorta v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film 15 Corp., 208 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2000) (emphasis added). Plaintiff does not allege in either 16 petition that the LMRA applies here. (See ECF No. 1; ECF No. 15.) Nor does Plaintiff allege 17 any facts suggesting that she has a claim under § 301 of the LMRA. Section 301 of the LMRA 18 “creates a federal cause of action for breach of collective bargaining agreements.” Miller v. 19 AT&T Network Sys, 850 F.2d 543, 545 (9th Cir. 1988). Plaintiff does not assert that this case 20 involves a collective bargaining agreement to which she was a party, much less a breach of one. 21 (See ECF No. 1; ECF No. 15.) In short, the LMRA is inapposite. 22 Finally, Plaintiff offers scattershot citations to two other authorities that are not relevant 23 here. First, Plaintiff cites Cortez Byrd Chips, Inc. v. Bill Harbert Const. Co., 529 U.S. 193 24 (2000), a Supreme Court case about the interplay between the FAA’s venue provision and Title 25 28’s general venue provision. (ECF No. 1 at 7:2–5; ECF No. 15 at 5:7–10.) But Plaintiff 26 conflates venue and jurisdiction, so her reliance on Cortez Byrd is misplaced. Venue and 27 jurisdiction are distinct concepts. See Libby, McNeill, and Libby v. City Nat. Bank, 592 F.2d 504, 28 510 (9th Cir. 1978) (“Venue is not jurisdictional.”). Second, Plaintiff cites 28 U.S.C. § 1367, 3 1 which confers supplemental jurisdiction over certain state law claims. (ECF No. 24 at 2:2.) She 2 again misses the mark. Supplemental jurisdiction can exist only if the Court already has original 3 jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Here, the Court does not have original jurisdiction for the 4 reasons discussed supra, so the Court cannot exercise supplemental jurisdiction. 5 III. CONCLUSION 6 The Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Consequently, Defendants’ Motion to 7 Dismiss (ECF No. 19) is hereby GRANTED. Plaintiff’s Motion to Consolidate Cases (ECF No. 8 18) is hereby DENIED as moot. 9 10 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 17, 2017 12 Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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