Scott v. Romac Industries
ORDER directing defendant to show cause within 7 days why this case should not be remanded by Judge Richard A Jones. (RS)
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
Case No. C16-1409-RAJ
This matter comes before the Court sua sponte. If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case that
has been removed to federal court, the case must be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
court may raise the issue of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte. Galt G/S v. HapagLloyd AG, 60 F.3d 1370, 1373 (9th Cir. 1995). “Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if
there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc.,
980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
Defendant Romac Industries (“Romac”) removed this action from Snohomish
County Superior Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331, “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” According to Romac, the
merits of Scott’s state law claims turn on whether Romac complied with the federal
Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. Scott, however,
asserts no federal claims.
ORDER – 1
The Court is not persuaded by the jurisdictional argument contained in Romac’s
notice of removal. “Claims brought under state law may ‘arise under’ federal law if
vindication of the state right necessarily turns upon construction of a substantial question
of federal law, i.e., if federal law is a necessary element of one of the well-pleaded
claims.” Ultramar Am. Ltd. v. Dwelle, 900 F.2d 1412, 1414 (9th Cir. 1990). The Ninth
Circuit’s decision in Ultramar exemplifies this principle. In that case, plaintiff filed an
action in state court, claiming that defendant had misrepresented its compliance with
federal environmental statutes. Id. at 1413. Defendant removed the action on the basis
that, although plaintiff had alleged state law claims, those claims turned on an
interpretation of federal law. Id. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court should
have remanded the case to state court. In reaching this conclusion, the Ninth Circuit
reasoned that, “[a]lthough [defendant] may have violated federal environmental laws . . .
in which case [plaintiff] might be entitled to relief, for every stated cause of action, an
alternative theory of relief, one dependent solely upon construction of state law, might
also entitle [plaintiff] to relief.” Id. at 1414. “The fact that an alternative theory of relief
exists for each claim alleged in the complaint, one not dependent upon federal law, is
itself grounds to defeat federal question jurisdiction.” Id.
For these reasons, the Court ORDERS Romac to show cause why this case
should not be remanded to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Within
seven (7) days from the date of this Order, Romac shall file a written response to this
order not exceeding five (5) pages. If Romac fails to do so, the Court will remand this
DATED this 5th day of April, 2017.
The Honorable Richard A. Jones
United States District Judge
ORDER – 2
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