Mitchell v. John Bean Technologies Corporation et al

Filing 22

ORDER: Motion to Remand (ECF No. 9 ) will remain pending during the period of jurisdictional discovery. The parties shall file any supplemental responses within 90 days of this Order, and any replies shall be filed within 14 days of any supplemental response. Any discovery disputes will be resolved by the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Judge William Q. Hayes on 10/18/2017.(ajs)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 MONICA MITCHELL, 10 Plaintiff, 11 12 13 14 15 16 CASE NO. 17-cv-1213-WQH-RBB ORDER v. JOHN BEAN TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, an Illinois Corporation; ELITE LINE SERVICES, INC., a Texas Corporation; SIEMENS POSTAL, PARCEL & AIRPORT LOGISTICS, LLC, a Delaware Corporation; and DOES 1 THROUGH 100, inclusive; Defendants. 17 18 HAYES, Judge: 19 The matter before the Court is the Motion to Remand to State Court filed by 20 Plaintiff Monica Mitchell. (ECF No. 9). 21 I. Background 22 On May 5, 2017, Plaintiff Monica Mitchell filed a Complaint in the Superior 23 Court of the State of California for the County of San Diego against Defendants John 24 Bean Technologies Corporation; Elite Line Services, Inc.; and Siemens Postal, Parcel 25 & Airport Logistics, LLC1. (ECF No. 1 at 7). In the Complaint, Mitchell alleges claims 26 for (1) strict product liability, (2) design defect, (3) failure to warn, (4) product liability, 27 28 1 Mitchell’s claims against Siemens Postal, Parcel & Airport Logistics, LLC have been dismissed. (ECF No. 1 at 26). -1- 17-cv-1213-WQH-RBB 1 (5) failure to maintain, and (6) negligent repairs. Id. On June 14, 2017, Defendants 2 John Bean Technologies Corporation (“JBT”) removed this action to federal district 3 court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and 1446. Id. at 1. On July 10, 2017, Mitchell 4 filed a Motion to Remand to State Court. (ECF No. 9). On July 31, 2017, JBT filed a 5 Response in Opposition to the Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 10). On August 7, 2017, 6 Mitchell filed a Reply to JBT’s Response. (ECF No. 11). 7 II. Allegations in the Complaint 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 On or about July 18, 2015, Plaintiff Monica Mitchell was employed as a customer service agent for Delta Airlines at Gate 38 in the San Diego International Airport, Terminal 2. On this July 2015 day, Plaintiff was . . . charged with preparing the passenger boarding bridge . . . bearing serial number 38246, (hereinafter “Subject Bridge”) . . . . Upon notice that it was time to prepare the Subject Bridge for boarding, Plaintiff proceeded down the Subject Bridge from the gate towards the rotunda, where unbeknownst to Plaintiff, there was a hazardous water puddle that had formed from rain leaking in from the Subject Bridge ceiling. As a consequence of this slip hazard from the leaks in the defective and/or poorly maintained Subject Bridge, . . . Plaintiff . . . slipped on the puddle of water . . . and fell to the ground. Plaintiff sustained serious injuries . . .. 17 (ECF No. 1 at 9-10). As a direct and proximate result of this injury, Plaintiff has suffered 18 a right knee sprain, right knee meniscal tear, a right lumbar strain and 19 chronic pain syndrome. . . . Plaintiff has received medical care, including surgery, through multiple providers, to include services provided by 20 primary care, orthopedics, physical medicine, pain management, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. Plaintiff’s right knee and low back still, on 21 occasion, continue to cause pain and weakness. 22 Id. at 11. Plaintiff’s “damages include: pain and suffering; physical disability and/or 23 impairment; mental anguish; expenses related to care of said injuries; as well as other 24 economic and non-economic damages.” Id. at 15. 25 III. Complete Diversity 26 Mitchell contends that this case should be remanded to state court because 27 “complete diversity does not exist.” (ECF No. 9-1 at 5). Mitchell contends that 28 complete diversity does not exist because Delta Air Lines, Inc. (“Delta”) intends to -2- 17-cv-1213-WQH-RBB 1 intervene as a plaintiff in this action and, like JBT, is a Delaware corporation. Id. at 52 6. JBT contends that “[c]omplete diversity exists between all parties in this case” 3 because all of the current parties are diverse and Delta’s “potential intervention is not 4 determinative of diversity jurisdiction.” (ECF No. 11 at 6). 5 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) gives district courts original jurisdiction over civil actions 6 “between . . . citizens of different states” if the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 7 “Since Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 3 Cranch 267, 2 L.Ed. 435 (1806), [the United States 8 Supreme Court] ha[s] read the statutory formulation ‘between . . . citizens of different 9 States’ to require complete diversity between all plaintiffs and all defendants.” Lincoln 10 Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005) (citing Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 11 61, 68 (1996)). 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) gives defendants the opportunity to remove a civil 12 action over which a federal district court would have original jurisdiction from state 13 court to a federal district court.2 14 The parties agree that there is complete diversity between all plaintiffs and all 15 defendants currently in this case: Mitchell is a citizen of California, JBT is a citizen of 16 Delaware, and Elite Line Services, Inc. is a citizen of Florida. (ECF No. 9-1 at 6; ECF 17 No. 10 at 6). Delta is not currently a plaintiff or defendant in this case. Consequently, 18 Delta’s citizenship is irrelevant to whetehr complete diversity exists. Mitchell’s motion 19 to remand due to a lack of complete diversity is denied. 20 IV. Amount in Controversy 21 Mitchell contends that this case should be remanded because JBT has failed to 22 prove that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. (ECF No. 9-1 at 3-5). JBT 23 contends that this case should not be remanded because JBT has “demonstrate[d that] 24 the jurisdictional amount is in controversy.” (ECF No. 11 at 3-6). 25 “If the plaintiff’s complaint, filed in state court, demands monetary relief of a 26 27 2 28 U.S.C. 1441(b) prevents defendants from removing a case if any defendant is a citizen of the state in which the action is brought. None of the Defendants in this case are 28 citizens of California, the state in which this action was brought, so 28 U.S.C 1441(b) does not require remand. -3- 17-cv-1213-WQH-RBB 1 stated sum, that sum, if asserted in good faith, is ‘deemed to be the amount in 2 controversy.’” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S. Ct. 547, 3 551 (2014) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)). When the complaint does not state the 4 amount in controversy, a defendant may allege the amount in controversy in its notice 5 of removal and “the defendant’s amount-in-controversy allegation should be accepted 6 when not contested by the plaintiff or questioned by the court.” Id. at 551, 553 (quoting 7 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(A)). “If the plaintiff contests the defendant’s allegation, . . . 8 ‘[r]emoval . . . is proper . . . if the district court finds, by the preponderance of the 9 evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds’ the jurisdictional threshold.” Id. at 10 553-54 (quoting 28 U.S.C § 1446(c)(2)(B)). “In such a case, both sides submit proof 11 and the court decides, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the 12 amount-in-controversy requirement has been satisfied.” Id. at 554. 13 When the parties are required to submit proof of the amount in controversy, 14 district courts may allow limited discovery relevant to that issue and “require parties to 15 submit summary-judgment-type evidence.” Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical 16 Company, 443 F.3d 676, 690 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. 17 Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 377 (9th Cir. 1997)). “Discovery may be appropriately granted 18 where pertinent facts bearing on the question of jurisdiction are controverted or where 19 a more satisfactory showing of the facts is necessary.” Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 20 1011, 1020 (9th Cir. 2008). The district court’s “jurisdictional finding of fact should 21 be based on more than guesswork.” Mondragon v. Capital One Auto Fin., 736 F.3d 22 880, 884 (9th Cir. 2013). 23 In this case, the amount in controversy is not facially apparent from the 24 Complaint, which alleges that Mitchell “seeks damages in excess of $25,000.” (ECF 25 No. 1 at 9). In the Notice of Removal, JBT “asserts . . . that the amount in controversy 26 exceeds $75,000.” Id. at 4. Mitchell contests JBT’s amount-in-controversy allegation. 27 (ECF 9-1 at 3-5). Consequently, the Court must find, by the preponderance of the 28 evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2)(B). -4- 17-cv-1213-WQH-RBB 1 The Court may order limited discovery on this issue. See Abrego, 434 F.3d at 676 2 (quoting Singer, 116 F.3d at 377). 3 JBT bases its assertion that the amount in controversy is greater than $75,000 “on 4 the allegations in the Complaint that the Plaintiff has suffered a right knee sprain, right 5 knee meniscal tear, a right lumbar strain and chronic pain syndrome requiring surgery 6 through multiple providers and will continue to suffer physical disability and/or 7 impairment.” (ECF No. 1 at 4). Based on the nature of Mitchell’s alleged injuries, the 8 amount in controversy may exceed $75,000. However, concluding that the amount in 9 controversy exceeds $75,000 based on the allegations in the Complaint would be akin 10 to making a “jurisdictional finding of fact . . . based on [little] more than guesswork.” 11 Mondragon, 736 F.3d at 884. The Court concludes that “a more satisfactory showing 12 of the facts is necessary” before it can rule on whether the amount in controversy 13 satisfies the jurisdictional threshold. Boschetto, 539 F.3d at 1020. The court will allow 14 the parties a period of 60 days to engage in limited jurisdictional discovery regarding 15 the amount in controversy requirement. 16 V. Conclusion 17 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion to Remand (ECF No. 9) will remain 18 pending during the period of jurisdictional discovery. The parties shall file any 19 supplemental responses within 90 days of this Order, and any replies shall be filed 20 within 14 days of any supplemental response. Any discovery disputes will be resolved 21 by the Magistrate Judge. 22 DATED: October 18, 2017 23 24 WILLIAM Q. HAYES United States District Judge 25 26 27 28 -5- 17-cv-1213-WQH-RBB

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