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Plata v. Darbun Enterprises

May 6, 2010

JAVIER TENORIO PLATA, AN INDIVIDUAL; DELORES GALVEZ MONTES, AN INDIVIDUAL;ALFONSO VICTOR INCLAN COSTA, AN INDIVIDUAL; GERMAN VASQUEZ FIGUEROA, AN INDIVIDUAL; (1) MICHELL ARIANNE CURTO GONGORA, VOLUNTARILY AN INDIVIDUAL; CARLOS ACEVEDO THE ACTION MENDOZA, AN INDIVIDUAL; LUIS (DOC. NO. DELGADO PICASSO, AN INDIVIDUAL; 100); AND RUBEN ARMAND ROBLES DIAZ, AN INDIVIDUAL; GRACIELA HERRERA RODRIGUEZ, AN INDIVIDUAL; MARIA FOR LACK OF SUBJECT DE LOS ANGELES SANDOVAL, AN MATTER JURISDICTION. INDIVIDUAL;REINALDO RODRIGUEZ VELASQUEZ, AN INDIVIDUAL; BRAULIO ALBERTO DELGADO BRASIA, AN INDIVIDUAL; FRANCISCA GASTELUM ARAGON, AN INDIVIDUAL; MARIA DE LA VILLANET SANCHEZ GUZMAN, AN INDIVIDUAL; YADIRA CAMBREROS PINEDA, AN INDIVIDUAL; REBECCA GUTEIRREZ JUAREZ, AN INDIVIDUAL; AND MARTHA HUIZAR N., AN INDIVIDUAL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DARBUN ENTERPRISES, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION; OEM SOLUTIONS, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; AND DOES 1THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER: DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE (2) DISMISSING THE ACTION

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion to voluntarily dismiss the action without prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. No. 100.)

Defendant Darbun Enterprises, Inc. filed an opposition and a supplemental opposition. Plaintiffs have not filed a reply. The motion is suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons stated herein, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion to voluntarily dismiss without prejudice and DISMISSES the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This matter involves the enforcement of a foreign judgment. Plaintiffs are eighteen individuals who were employed by Soluciones Tecnologicas de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. ("STM"). On May 31, 2000, Plaintiffs commenced an action for unpaid wages against STM and Defendants OEM Solutions, LLC and Darbun Enterprises, Inc. before the Number One Special Local and Conciliation and Arbitrage Local Authority of the City of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico (the "Labor Relations Board"). On September 5, 2003, the Labor Relations Board handed down its judgment in favor of Plaintiffs.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

I. Plaintiffs' Complaint and First Amended Complaint

On January 12, 2009, Plaintiffs commenced this action for recognition of the Mexican judgment pursuant to the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act, California Code of Civil Procedure § 1713 et seq. Plaintiffs allege subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity jurisdiction, and that each of the eighteen plaintiffs resides in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiffs' Complaint names Defendants Darbun Enterprises ("Defendant") and OEM Solutions, LLC,*fn1 both California companies. Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim to void the foreign judgment and for fraud. (Doc. No. 16.)

On April 30, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a motion for writ of attachment requesting that the Court attach Defendant's assets. (Doc. No. 18.) On June 10, 2009, pursuant to an argument raised in Defendant's opposition, the Court issued an order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.*fn2 (Doc. No. 51.) The Court explained that Plaintiffs' jurisdictional allegations were deficient because they were premised on Plaintiffs' residency, and not citizenship.

On June 29, 2009, the Court sua sponte granted Plaintiffs leave to amend the Complaint to cure the jurisdictional defects. (Doc. No. 58.) Subsequently, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on July 9, 2009.*fn3 (Doc. No. 61.) Plaintiffs' FAC alleges each plaintiff "is a citizen of Mexico and domiciled in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico as of the commencement of this action." (FAC ¶¶ 2-19.) On September 23, 2009, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion for writ of attachment because Plaintiffs failed to show that they were more likely than not to meet their burden of proving that the Mexican judgment is not a penalty. (Doc. No. 82.)

II. Jurisdictional Discovery

Defendant served discovery on Plaintiffs designed to discover whether any plaintiff was a permanent resident alien domiciled in California and for the production of documents relevant to the issue of whether the judgment constitutes a penalty. Due to Plaintiffs' failure to respond, Defendant filed a motion to compel on January 19, 2010. (Doc. No. 96.)

On February 12, 2010, the date of the hearing on Defendant's motion to compel, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to voluntarily dismiss this case without prejudice. (Doc. No. 100.) Plaintiffs state that "Plaintiffs' counsel now believes in good faith that diversity jurisdiction over this case is potentially lacking":

It has come to counsel for Plaintiffs' attention on or about Friday, February 5, 2010 that there is a potential issue regarding this Court's subject matter jurisdiction, in that it is arguable that one plaintiff's domicile can be construed as being in San Diego, California. Although it is by no means conclusive, in that this plaintiff still maintains a residence in Tijuana, Mexico and still has a valid voter registration card in Tijuana, Mexico that has previously been introduced as evidence in this case, that plaintiff has not only maintained a residence in San ...


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