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I-215 Murrieta Venture, LP v. American Safety Casualty Ins. Co.


October 21, 2010


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


Paul Songco Not Reported N/A


Before this Court is a Notice of Removal filed by defendant American Safety Casualty Insurance Company ("Defendant") on October 15, 2010. (Docket No. 1.) 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). However, 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).

In attempting to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Defendant must prove that there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. 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.

Unlike the citizenship of a natural person, the citizenship of a partnership or other unincorporated entity is the citizenship of its members. See Johnson v. Columbia Props. Anchorage, , 437 F.3d 894, 899 (9th Cir. 2006) ("[L]ike a partnership, an LLC is a citizen of every state of which its owners/members are citizens."); Marseilles Hydro Power, LLC v. Marseilles Land & Water Co., 299 F.3d 643, 652 (7th Cir. 2002) ("the relevant citizenship [of an LLC] for diversity purposes is that of the members, not of the company"); Handelsman v. Bedford Village Assocs., Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 48, 51-52 (2d Cir. 2000) ("a limited liability company has the citizenship of its membership"); Cosgrove v. Bartolotta, 150 F.3d 729, 731 (7th Cir. 1998); TPS Utilicom Servs., Inc. v. AT & T Corp., 223 F. Supp. 2d 1089, 1101 (C.D. Cal. 2002) ("A limited liability company . . . is treated like a partnership for the purpose of establishing citizenship under diversity jurisdiction").

Here, Defendant merely alleges in its Notice of Removal that plaintiff I-215 Murrieta Venture LP ("Plaintiff") is a "citizen of the State of California, its state of organization and its place of business." (Notice of Removal, ¶ 3.) However, the Complaint alleges that Plaintiff is a limited partnership. (Complaint, ¶ 1.) Thus, in order to establish Plaintiff's citizenship for removal jurisdiction, Defendant was required to allege the citizenship of each of Plaintiff's members. Because Defendant failed to make such allegations, the Notice of Removal fails to demonstrate the existence of diversity jurisdiction.

Because the Notice of Removal does not 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. BC445635, for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction.

28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).



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