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Beauford v. E.W.H. Group Inc.

June 23, 2009

DENISE BEAUFORD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
E.W.H. GROUP INC. DBA BAKERSFIELD MITSUBISHI, DOCUMENTS # 17 AND # 9 AND DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anthony W. Ishii Chief United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF BEAUFORD'S MOTION FOR REMAND AND REMANDING ACTION TO KERN COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT

BACKGROUND

This case arises on a motion to remand a class action suit, brought by plaintiff Denise Beauford ("Plaintiff") against defendant E.W.H. Group Inc. ("Defendant"), who operated a car dealership known as "Bakersfield Mitsubishi". The suit was originally filed on Feburary 13, 2008, in the Kern County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleges violations of the California Tire Recycling Act, Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 42885, the Automobile Sales and Finance Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 2981 et. seq., the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et. seq. and the California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. All of Plaintiff's causes of action are brought pursuant to California State law. Defendant timely filed a motion for removal under 28 U.S.C. §1446 on January 9, 2009, asserting diversity jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d) and 1453(b). Plaintiff filed a motion to remand on May 15, 2009, pursuant to 28. U.S.C. § 1447.

LEGAL STANDARD

A civil action in state court may be removed by the defendant or defendants to a federal district court if the district court has original jurisdiction over the matter. 28 U.S.C § 1441(a). In enacting CAFA, Congress enlarged the original jurisdiction of the federal courts over class action suits raising state law claims by providing for original jurisdiction for class actions that meet certain specific requirements. CAFA states that for class actions with more than 100 class members:

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is a class action in which--(A) any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant; (B) any member of a class of plaintiffs is a foreign state or a citizen or subject of a foreign state and any defendant is a citizen of a State; or (C) any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State and any defendant is a foreign state or a citizen or subject of a foreign state.

28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2) and 1332(d)(5). CAFA, however, contains several exceptions to the federal courts original jurisdiction over class actions. The "home state" exception provides that "[a] district court shall decline to exercise jurisdiction under paragraph (2)" over a class action where "two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(B). The "local controversy" exception states that a district court shall decline to exercise jurisdiction where no other similar class action has been filed in the preceding three years and:

(I) greater than two-thirds of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed;

(II) at least 1 defendant is a defendant--(aa) from whom significant relief is sought by members of the plaintiff class; (bb) whose alleged conduct forms a significant basis for the claims asserted by the proposed plaintiff class; and (cc) who is a citizen of the State in which the action was originally filed; and

(III) principal injuries resulting from the alleged conduct or any related conduct of each defendant were incurred in the State in which the action was originally filed; 28 U.S.C § 1332(d)(4)(A).

Once removed plaintiffs may move to remand their case to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 1447(c), which provides:

A motion to remand the case on the basis of any defect other than lack of subject matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal under section 1446(a). If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.

In reviewing a motion to remand, the removal statute must be strictly construed and "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); see also Harris v. Bankers Life and Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005) (noting "the canon [of law] that instructs that removal statutes should be construed narrowly in favor of remand to protect the jurisdiction of state courts.... Our interpretation is consistent with the goal of the canon, which guards against premature and protective removals and minimizes the potential for a cottage industry of removal litigation.")(citations omitted).

When removing a case to federal court under CAFA the Ninth Circuit has expressly held that the burden to establish federal jurisdiction remains with the removing party. Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 682-683, 685 (9th Cir. 2006) (stating that "[i]n cases removed from state court, the removing defendant has 'always' borne the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction....")(citation omitted); 14C Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure § 3739 at 423-24 (collecting cases). Furthermore, if the jurisdictional facts of the party asserting jurisdiction are challenged, the burden falls on the party asserting federal jurisdiction to provide competent proof. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. of Indiana, 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936); Industrial Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Pettis ex rel. U.S. v. Morrison-Knudsen Co., Inc., 577 F.2d 668, 674 (9th Cir. 1979) (finding "that plaintiff has the burden of establishing jurisdiction if it ...


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