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Mariana Labastida, Et. Al v. Mcneil Technologies

February 25, 2011

MARIANA LABASTIDA, ET. AL.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MCNEIL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET. AL.,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

[Doc. No. 16]

REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of the Court's November 23, 2010 Order denying Plaintiffs' motion to remand [Doc. No. 8]. Defendants oppose Plaintiffs' motion, and Plaintiffs filed a reply [Doc. Nos. 17, 18]. Having considered the briefing, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration and REMANDS this action to state court.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

The Court detailed the events giving rise to this action in its previous order denying Plaintiffs' motion to remand [Doc. No. 15]. Those sections of the Court's November 23 Order are incorporated by reference herein. The Court in its November 23 Order ultimately denied Plaintiffs' motion to remand because the Court found that Invizion's Notice of Removal was proper both procedurally and substantively, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1446(b), and the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Specifically, the Court found that Invizion's Notice of Removal was timely, that the incorrect allegations of timeliness in the Notice constituted defects in form, curable by amendment, and that Invizion established, by a preponderance of the evidence, the jurisdictional amount requirement set forth in CAFA. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). See Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 2007); Abrego v. Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685 (9th Cir. 2006). After careful reconsideration, the Court now finds that Invizion fails to put forth sufficient evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory minimum.

LEGAL STANDARD

Plaintiffs move for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which provides:

When an action presents more than one claim for relief . . . or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

FED. R. CIV. P. 54(b) (emphasis added). As a threshold matter, Defendant Invizion asserts that Plaintiffs' motion is improper because Rule 54(b) applies only to "judgments" and does not provide a basis for reconsideration. However, under Rule 54(b), a district court has inherent authority to "reconsider and modify an interlocutory decision for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or clarification of controlling law." Jadwin v. County of Kern, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30949 *26 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 31, 2010) (quoting Abada v. Charles Schwab & Co., 127 F. Supp. 2d 1101, 1102 (S.D. Cal. 2001); City of Los Angeles v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir. 2001)). "But a court should generally leave a previous decision undisturbed absent a showing that it either represented clear error or would work a manifest injustice." Jadwin, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS at *26-27 (quoting Abada, 127 F. Supp. 2d at 1102). The Court therefore exercises its inherent authority to reconsider and revise its November 23 Order pursuant to Rule 54(b).

Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration is also proper under Rule 60(b), which Invizion cites as the applicable standard in its opposition brief. Rule 60(b) provides that a motion for "relief from judgment or order" may be filed within a "reasonable time," but usually must be filed "not more than one year after the judgment, order, or proceeding was entered or taken." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b). Under Rule 60(b), reconsideration may be granted in the case of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect" or "any other reason [justifying] relief." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b). A court's determination that it committed error certainly qualifies, and in this respect, the standards for review embodied in Rules 54(b) and 60(b) are complementary.

In addition to the foregoing, motions for reconsideration are also properly brought under Civil Local Rule 7.1(i), which allows parties to seek reconsideration of an order. Generally, courts will reconsider a decision if a party can show (1) new facts, (2) new law, or (3) clear error in the court's prior decision. See, e.g., School Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah County v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993); Hydranautics v. FilmTec Corp., 306 F. Supp. 2d 958, 968 (S.D. Cal. 2003). Ultimately, however, the decision on a motion for reconsideration lies in the Court's sound discretion. Navajo Nation v. Norris, 331 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Kona Enter. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 883 (9th Cir. 2000)).

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs request that the Court reconsider the evidentiary record related to Invizion's burden of establishing the amount in controversy requirement set forth in CAFA. In cases removed from state court, a removing defendant bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction, including any applicable amount in controversy requirement. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). A notice of removal pursuant to CAFA must be timely filed in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 1446(b), and must indicate the amount in controversy satisfies the jurisdictional amount requirement of $5 million. Id. at 567. In this circuit, when a complaint does not contain any specific amount of damages sought, "the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy requirement has been met." Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 683 (9th Cir. 2006). "Under this burden, the defendant must provide evidence that it is 'more likely than not' that the amount in controversy" satisfies the federal diversity jurisdictional amount requirement. Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996). The mere "legal possibility" that the amount in controversy is jurisdictionally sufficient is "clearly inconsistent with the limits which Congress has ...


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