Rattler v. MH Sub I, LLC et al

Filing 25

ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen Granting 20 Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (emcsec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 9/8/2021)

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Case 3:21-cv-01492-EMC Document 25 Filed 09/08/21 Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 KIM RATTLER, Plaintiff, 8 Docket No. 20 MH SUB I, LLC, et al., Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO REMAND v. 9 10 Case No. 21-cv-01492-EMC 12 13 For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff Kim Rattler’s pending motion to 14 15 remand this case to Alameda County Superior Court. See Docket No. 20 (“Mot.”). 16 17 I. A. BACKGROUND First Action 18 Plaintiff alleges that, when she applied to work for Defendants, they provided her a 19 disclosure and authorization form to perform a background check that “contained extraneous and 20 superfluous language that does not consist solely of the disclosure as required by the FCRA and/or 21 is not clear and conspicuous.” See Docket No. 1, Ex. A (“Compl.”) ⁋⁋ 21–22. Plaintiff does not 22 allege that she was confused or otherwise harmed by the authorization form. Id. 23 On Mach 9, 2020, Plaintiff filed a complaint in Alameda County Superior Court raising a 24 single cause of action against Defendants for willful violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act 25 (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681. See Rattler v. MH Sub I, LLC, No. 3:20-cv-02444 (“Rattler I”), 26 Docket No. 1-1, Ex. A (“Compl.”). On April 9, 2020, Defendants removed the action to this 27 Court on the grounds of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Id. 28 On August 27, 2020, this Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to remand in a minute order Case 3:21-cv-01492-EMC Document 25 Filed 09/08/21 Page 2 of 4 1 because “the complaint makes no allegation that plaintiff suffered a concrete injury and, therefore, 2 this Court lacks Article III standing.” Rattler I, Docket No. 44 (“Min. Order”) (citing Syed v. M-I, 3 LLC, 853 F.3d 492 (9th Cir. 2017). 4 B. Instant Action 5 On February 2, 2021, Defendants’ counsel asked Plaintiff during her deposition if she 6 “believe[d] that [she was] wronged by something Demandforce did,” to which she responded: 7 “yes, I do.” Rattler v. MH Sub I, LLC, 3:21-cv-1492 (“Rattler II”), Docket No. 1-1, Ex. E 8 (“Rattler Dep.”) at 110:09–14. When asked to elaborate, Plaintiff explained as follows: 9 12 I feel like—I feel like I was—I was prejudged based on my background. The conversation that took place in the physical interview, and the prepping me for Monday, and pretty much assuring me, that, you know, they'll see me Monday morning, and declining other options, then to get a call at the last minute on a Friday, yeah, I definitely feel like I was wronged. I feel like I was judged based on my background. 13 Id. at 110:18–24. Defendants then confirmed that Ms. Rattler sought to be compensated “for that 14 wrong” as part of this lawsuit. Id. at 110:25–111:2. Counsel for Defendants then asked whether 15 Plaintiff was “seeking compensation for [emotional distress] as part of this lawsuit,” to which she 16 responded: 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 17 18 19 20 21 I try not to put emotion in it, but I’m a very emotional person, and I don’t think they understood what not being able to go to work did. The not knowing how you’re going to feed your kid, or pay the bills, or the rent, and you take care of your mother, and you’re the sole provider for everyone. And I know it’s not their problem, but—it just—it just, it took a lot. I wasn’t asking for a handout. I’ve never asked for a handout. I’ve always worked for everything I had. 23 So, again, it was a last minute decision to tell me I’m not going to work after I spent money that I didn’t have for work clothes, and expecting to, you know, make a certain amount of money to be able to take care of your kid, your family. And it just be gone in a blink of an eye. It was a lot of emotional distress, a lot. 24 Id. at 111:03–21. Ms. Rattler was referring to Defendants’ decision not to hire her. 22 25 Based on this testimony, Defendants again removed the action to this Court on March 2, 26 2021. Rattler II, Docket No. 1 (“Notice of Removal”). Plaintiff filed the pending motion to 27 remand this case on August 12, 2021. Mot. 28 2 Case 3:21-cv-01492-EMC Document 25 Filed 09/08/21 Page 3 of 4 1 2 II. LEGAL STANDARD The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Provincial 3 Gov’t of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009). “The removal 4 statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right of removal requires resolution in favor 5 of remand.” Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009). A suit 6 may be removed from state court to federal court only if the federal court would have had subject 7 matter jurisdiction over the case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 8 386, 392 (1987) (“Only state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court 9 may be removed to federal court by the defendant.”). If it appears at any time before final judgment that the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the federal court must remand the 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 action to state court. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). 12 13 III. DISCUSSION Federal courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction over actions where a plaintiff lacks 14 Article III standing. Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169, 1174 (9th Cir. 2004). The 15 “irreducible constitutional minimum” of standing requires that a “plaintiff must have (1) suffered 16 an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that 17 is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins (“Spokeo II”), 18 136 S. Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016). These three elements are referred to as, respectively, injury-in-fact, 19 causation, and redressability. Planned Parenthood of Greater Was. & N. Idaho v. U.S. Dep’t of 20 Health & Human Servs., 946 F.3d 1100, 1108 (9th Cir. 2020). The party invoking federal 21 jurisdiction bears the burden of “clearly . . . alleg[ing] facts demonstrating each element.” Spokeo 22 II, 136 S. Ct. at 1547 (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 518 (1975)). 23 Defendants’ second removal of this case is wholly meritless. They contend Plaintiff’s 24 testimony regarding the emotional distress she suffered from not getting hired by Demandforce 25 means she “alleged a concrete injury that she believes was caused by Demandforce’s conduct.” 26 See Docket No. 23 (“Opp’n”) at 4. But the “conduct” Plaintiff complained about in her deposition 27 was that Defendants did not hire her, not that they provided her with a background check 28 disclosure and authorization form with extraneous and superfluous language in violation of the 3 Case 3:21-cv-01492-EMC Document 25 Filed 09/08/21 Page 4 of 4 1 FCRA, which is her only cause of action in this case. See Compl. ¶¶ 21–22. It is therefore 2 obvious that the emotional distress Plaintiff described in her deposition is not “fairly traceable to 3 the challenged conduct of the [D]efendant[s].” Spokeo II, 136 S. Ct. at 1547 (emphasis added). 4 Defendants do not contend Plaintiff alleged or testified that the deficient disclosure and 5 authorization form caused her confusion, let alone emotional distress. See Syed v. M-I, LLC, 853 6 F.3d 492, 499 (9th Cir. 2017) (“A plaintiff who alleges a ‘bare procedural violation’ of the FCRA, 7 ‘divorced from any concrete harm,’ fails to satisfy Article III’s injury-in-fact requirement.” 8 (quoting Spokeo II, 136 S.Ct. at 1549)). There is no colorable argument that Plaintiff’s emotional 9 distress was caused by Defendants’ failure to provide her an FCRA-compliant authorization and 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 disclosure form. Accordingly, Plaintiff does not have Article III standing. IV. 12 13 14 15 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the Court again GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion to remand this case to Alameda County Superior Court. The Court further reminds Defendants and their counsel that they should only file removal 16 notices that, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b), are “warranted by existing law or 17 by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing 18 new law.” Otherwise Defendants risk being sanctioned by this Court. Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c). 19 This order disposes of Docket No. 20. 20 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 23 Dated: September 8, 2021 24 25 26 ______________________________________ EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge 27 28 4

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