Martinez v. Sea World LLC et al

Filing 7

ORDER Remanding Case to the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego. Signed by Judge M. James Lorenz on 12/7/2015 (CC: Superior Court)(sjt)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 GRECIA MARTINEZ, by her Guardian Ad Litem, RAFAEL MARTINEZ, 15 ORDER REMANDING CASE TO STATE COURT Plaintiff, 13 14 Case No.: 15cv2462 L (JLB) v. SEA WORLD LLC; et al., Defendant. 16 17 18 On October 30, 2015, defendant Sea World LLC removed this action from the 19 Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego on the basis of 20 diversity jurisdiction. 21 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. 22 Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). They possess only that power authorized by 23 Constitution or a statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree. Id. (internal 24 citations omitted). It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction 25 and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction. Id. 26 (internal citations omitted); see also Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 27 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006). The Ninth Circuit “strictly construe[s] the removal statute 28 against removal jurisdiction,” and “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any 1 15cv2462 L (JLB) 1 doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 2 566 (9th Cir.1992) (citing Boggs v. Lewis, 863 F.2d 662, 663 (9th Cir.1988), Takeda v. 3 Northwestern Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 765 F.2d 815, 818 (9th Cir.1985). “The ‘strong 4 presumption’ against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the 5 burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id. (citing Nishimoto v. Federman– 6 Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n. 3 (9th Cir. 1990); Emrich v. Touche Ross & 7 Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir.1988)).When a defendant removes an action from state 8 court on the grounds that the federal court may properly exercise diversity jurisdiction 9 over the action, the defendant bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction, 10 including satisfaction of the amount-in-controversy requirement. Although evidentiary 11 materials are not required to demonstrate the amount in controversy exceeds the 12 jurisdictional threshold of $75,000, a mere statement that the amount is controversy 13 meets the threshold is insufficient particularly when the plaintiff’s complaint suggests 14 damages far less than the threshold amount. See Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., 15 LLC v. Owens, 135 S. Ct. 547 (2014). 16 Although plaintiff does not argue that defendants have failed to show the amount 17 in controversy exceeds $75,000, the court has an independent duty to ensure it has 18 jurisdiction to hear the case. See Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 501 19 (2006)(“[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction, because it involves a court's power to hear a case, 20 can never be forfeited or waived. . . . Moreover, courts . . . have an independent 21 obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of 22 a challenge from any party” (internal quotations and citations omitted)). Accordingly, the 23 court considers the matter sua sponte. 24 Here, the complaint alleges that plaintiff, a minor, sustained “serious injuries and 25 damages in excess of the sum of $25,000” due to “an uneven concrete walkway” at Sea 26 World San Diego. The minor broke her arm. Defendant contends that “upon information 27 and belief,” that the damages will likely exceed $75,000.00. Neither the complaint nor 28 defendant’s notice of removal suggest damages approaching $75,000. 2 15cv2462 L (JLB) 1 In sum, because defendant has failed to show that the amount in controversy is 2 satisfied, the court lacks diversity jurisdiction and it must remand the case to state court. 3 Based on the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED remanding this action, Martinez v. Sea 4 World Entertainment Inc., Case No. 37-2015-00025901-CU-PO-CTL, to the Superior 5 Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego. 6 7 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: December 7, 2015 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 15cv2462 L (JLB)

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