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Sweet v. United Parcel Serv.


December 29, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Percy Anderson, United States District Judge



Before the Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendant United Parcel Service, Inc. ("Defendant"). (Docket No. 1.) Defendant asserts that federal jurisdiction exists on the basis of diversity of citizenship.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675, 128 L.Ed. 2d 391 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A removed action must be remanded to state court if the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). "The removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls to the party invoking the statute." California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest., 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988)). As the party seeking to invoke this Court's jurisdiction, Defendant bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986) (citations omitted).

Subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship requires all plaintiffs to have different citizenship from all defendants. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373, 98 S.Ct. 2396, 2402, 57 L.Ed. 2d 274 (1978). To establish citizenship for diversity purposes, a natural person must be a citizen of the United States and be domiciled in a particular state. Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd., 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983). Persons are domiciled in the places they reside with the intent to remain or to which they intend to return. See Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). "A person residing in a given state is not necessarily domiciled there, and thus is not necessarily a citizen of that state." Id.

Here, Defendant alleges in its Notice of Removal that "Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was and is a citizen of the State of California." (Notice of Removal ¶ 7.) Defendant cites to paragraph 1 of the Complaint in support of this assertion. Defendant's characterization of the Complaint is incorrect, however. Plaintiff Nancy Sweet ("Plaintiff") merely states that she is "a resident of Los Angeles County, State of California." (Compl. ¶ 1.) Thus, Plaintiff states her residence, but not her citizenship. "Absent unusual circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the actual citizenship of the relevant parties." Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857; Bradford v. Mitchell Bros. Truck Lines, 217 F. Supp. 525, 527 (N.D. Cal. 1963) ("A petition [for removal] alleging diversity of citizenship upon information and belief is insufficient."). "[N]notice of removability under § 1446(b) is determined through examination of the four corners of the applicable pleadings, not through subjective knowledge or a duty to make further inquiry." Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 694 (9th Cir. 2005).

Because neither the "four corners" of the complaint nor the Notice of Removal contain sufficient allegations concerning Plaintiff's citizenship, Defendant has not met its burden to establish this Court's jurisdiction. See id. Accordingly, the Court remands this action to Los Angeles Superior Court, Case Number BC399800, for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).



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