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Haase v. Aerodynamics Inc.

October 16, 2009

AMBER HAASE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AERODYNAMICS INCORPORATED, A CORPORATION; ADI SHUTTLE GROUP, LLC, A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; AND DOES ONE THROUGH FIFTY, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Amber Haase seeks monetary relief from Defendants Aerodynamics Incorporated and ADI Shuttle Group, LLC for Unlawful Employment Practices in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and for Wrongful Termination in violation of California public policy.*fn1

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand this action to the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Sacramento, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), on grounds that this Court lacks removal jurisdiction under 28U.S.C. § 1441(b). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion to Remand.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a California resident, worked for Defendant ADI Shuttle Group, LLC ("ADI") as a full time flight attendant beginning in July 2004. (Compl. ¶ 13.) This action is based on alleged acts of discrimination that occurred during Plaintiff's employment and eventual termination. Plaintiff alleges that ADI engaged in a pattern and practice of disregarding Plaintiff's California Pregnancy Disability Leave Rights, which she claims ultimately led to her retaliatory termination on December 5, 2008.

Plaintiff is suing not only her former employer, ADI, but also ADI's parent company, Aerodynamics Incorporated ("Aerodynamics") under theories of alter ego and integrated enterprise. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-10.) Defendant ADI is a limited liability company formed under the laws of the State of Delaware with its principal place of business in the State of Michigan. (Def.'s Notice of Removal ¶ 13.) Defendant Aerodynamics is a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Michigan with its principal place of business in the State of Michigan. (Def.'s Notice of Removal ¶ 12.)

Plaintiff filed the present action on May 7, 2009 in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Sacramento alleging state law claims of Unlawful Employment Practices and Wrongful Termination in violation of public policy. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges general damages for each claim "in excess of the jurisdictional limits of the Superior Court" as well as for undetermined special damages, punitive damages, costs and interest. (Compl. 16-17.) Plaintiff also seeks recovery of attorney's fees for the Unlawful Employment Practices Claim. (Compl. 16.)

On July 21, 2009, Defendants removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff now moves to remand the action back to the state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) on the grounds that removal was improper under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) and (b) because Defendants failed to prove by the preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 as required to confer this Court with original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

STANDARD

A defendant may remove any civil action from state court to federal district court if the district court has "original jurisdiction" over the matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Generally, district courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions in two instances:

(1) where there is complete diversity between the parties, or

(2) where a federal question is presented in an action arising under the Constitution, federal law, or treaty. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332.

Where jurisdiction is founded on diversity, 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires that the amount in controversy exceed $75,000.00. Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). The removing party bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest., 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988). If the jurisdictional amount in controversy is not facially apparent from the state court complaint, i.e., if the plaintiff has not sought a specific amount in damages or if the amount sought is unclear, then the court must look beyond the facts of the complaint and apply the preponderance of the evidence standard. Walker, 627 F. Supp. 2d at 1141; Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996); Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 701 (9th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, in order to defeat a motion to remand, the removing defendant must prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" that the amount in controversy requirement has been met. Sanchez, 102 F.3d at 404 ("[T]he defendant must provide evidence establishing that it is 'more likely than not' that the amount in controversy exceeds that amount.").

In determining whether the jurisdictional requirement has been met in such cases, the court may consider evidence submitted subsequent to the notice of removal, including evidence submitted in ...


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