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Barsell v. Urban Outfitters

July 1, 2009

MELANIE BARSELL, AN INDIVIDUAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
URBAN OUTFITTERS, INC., A PENNSYLVANIA CORPORATION; PATRICIA REDDING, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margaret M. Morrow United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND CASE TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT

On March 5, 2009, plaintiff Melanie Barsell filed a complaint against defendants Urban Outfitters, Inc. ("Urban Outfitters") and Patricia Redding in Los Angeles Superior Court. Barsell's complaint alleges five state law causes of action against Urban Outfitters, and a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Redding. Urban Outfitters removed the action to federal court on April 15, 2009, asserting that the matter falls within the court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and 1332(a). On May 7, 2009, Barsell filed a motion to remand. The motion is currently on calendar for hearing on July 6, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the court finds that this matter is appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing scheduled for July 6, 2009 is hereby vacated and taken off calendar.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Factual Allegations in Barsell's Complaint

Barsell, who suffers from chronic depression,*fn1 was hired by Urban Outfitters as a operations supervisor on July 21, 2008.*fn2 At the time, she was taking anti-depressant medication.*fn3 In August 2008, Barsell informed assistant store manager Jane Yamamoto that she suffered from chronic depression and was taking anti-depressants.*fn4 She said she intended to stop taking the medication soon.*fn5 In October 2008, Barsell discontinued the medication and advised her supervisors of this fact.*fn6

One week after stopping the medication, Barsell experienced severe depression and was unable to work for one day.*fn7 Barsell's husband called Redding, the store manager, and told her that Barsell could not work that day due to depression.*fn8 When Barsell returned to work, she was asked to meet with Yamamoto and Redding.*fn9 Redding gave Barsell a document that purportedly recorded days on which Barsell had been late for work.*fn10 Barsell disputed that she had been late, and added that she had no history of discipline.*fn11 Redding gave Barsell a written warning for tardiness; Barsell alleges that Redding issued the warning in retaliation for Barsell's inability to work the previous day due to depression.*fn12

On November 14, 2008, Barsell was admitted to the hospital for severe depression.*fn13

Barsell's husband notified Urban Outfitters of this fact.*fn14 On November 17, Redding called Barsell's husband and left a voicemail message, requesting that he contact her regarding Barsell.*fn15

Redding purportedly stated that she and Barsell's husband "need[ed] to discuss what we are going to do with her."*fn16 On November 19, Barsell's husband called Redding, and Redding advised him that Urban Outfitters was terminating Barsell's employment due to missed work.*fn17

Barsell's complaint pleads five causes of action against Urban Outfitters: (1) disability discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940(a); (2) failure reasonably to accommodate disability in violation of Government Code § 12940(m); (3) failure to engage in a good faith interactive process in violation of Government Code § 12940(n); (4) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. The complaint alleges a claim against Redding for intentional infliction of emotional distress as well.

B. Urban Outfitters' Notice of Removal

Urban Outfitters filed a notice of removal on April 15, 2009, asserting that the matter fell within the court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and 1332(a). Urban Outfitters asserts that it is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Pennsylvania, and that Barsell and Redding are both citizens of California.*fn18 Urban Outfitters contends that the court should disregard Redding's citizenship because she is a sham defendant who has been joined only to defeat diversity jurisdiction.*fn19

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard Governing Removal ...


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