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Massoudi v. ConocoPhillips Co.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


June 25, 2009

FARIBORZ DAVID MASSOUDI, ET AL.
v.
CONOCOPHILLIPS CO.

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

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Paul Songco Not Reported N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER

Before this Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendant ConocoPhillips Co. ("Defendant") on June 18, 2009. Defendant asserts that jurisdiction exists based on diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

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 burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction." Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix (U.S.) Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999).

Jurisdiction may be based on complete diversity of citizenship, requiring all plaintiffs to have a different citizenship from all defendants and for the amount in controversy to exceed $75,000.00. 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. For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a corporation is a citizen of any state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c); see also Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990).

The Complaint filed by plaintiffs Fariborz David Massoudi ("Massoudi") and Massco Investments, Inc. ("Massco") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") does not allege the citizenship of either Plaintiff sufficiently. There are no allegations of Massoudi's citizenship; rather, the only allegation regarding Massoudi is: "Plaintiff, FARIBORZ DAVID MASOUDI, is an individual that operates a motor fuel service station located at 1515 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90019." (Complaint, p. 1, ¶ 1.) Massco is described as a California corporation, but there is no explanation of where Massco is incorporated as compared to where it has its principal place of business. (Complaint, p. 1, ¶2.) In its Notice of Removal, Defendant alleges that it "is informed and believes, and thereon avers, that" Plaintiffs are citizens of California. (Notice of Removal, p. 3, ¶¶ (5)(a)(i), (ii) (citing to the Complaint , ¶¶ 1, 2.)) "A petition alleging citizenship upon information and belief is insufficient" to establish diversity. Bradford v. Mitchell Bros. Truck Lines, 217 F. Supp. 525, 527 (N.D. Cal. 1963); see also , 265 F.3d at 857 ("Absent unusual circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the actual citizenship of the relevant parties.").

Because neither the "four corners" of the Complaint nor the Notice of Removal contain sufficient allegations concerning citizenship, Defendant has not met its burden to establish this Court's jurisdiction. See Harris v. Bankers Life and Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 694 (9th Cir. 2005). Accordingly this Court remands this action to Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC414945 for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20090625

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