Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Morrison C. England, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:09-cv-00759- MCE-JFM D.C. No. 2:09-cv-00090-MCE-JFM
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wallace, Senior Circuit Judge:
Argued and Submitted January 14, 2011-San Francisco, California
Before: J. Clifford Wallace, John T. Noonan, and Barry G. Silverman, Circuit Judges.
These consolidated appeals arise from two separate actions that involve California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CAL-STAR). Both actions turn on the same jurisdictional question: is the expectation of a federal defense, without more, sufficient to establish federal jurisdiction over a state-law claim?
Despite CALSTAR's arguments to the contrary, we reiterate that the well-pleaded complaint rule precludes the exercise of federal subject matter jurisdiction over purely state-law causes of action, like the one raised here.
CALSTAR provides air-ambulance rescue services to employees injured in the course of their employment, and whose employers are either self-insured or have purchased workers' compensation insurance. CALSTAR alleges that these employers and various insurance companies (collectively, Employers) have underpaid CALSTAR for its services. Rather than pay the amount billed by CALSTAR, Employers have paid a lesser amount as specified under the California's workers' compensation statute. See Cal. Code Regs. tit. 8 § 9789.70 (now obsolete in relevant part).
In 2009, CALSTAR filed its actions in the Eastern District of California, alleging state-law claims of quantum meruit, unjust enrichment, and open book account. CALSTAR also sought a declaratory judgment that the state statute regulating air-ambulance rates is pre-empted by federal law. In the 1970s, the federal government adopted legislation-the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (FAA), as amended by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, codified at 49 U.S.C. § 41713(b)(1)-to increase airline competition and lower airfare prices. According to CALSTAR, the FAA preempts the workers' compensation statute at issue.
The FAA preemption question is the sole basis on which CALSTAR attempts to have its actions adjudicated in federal court. Relying on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e)(1), the district court concluded that subject matter jurisdiction was lacking and dismissed CALSTAR's claims. CALSTAR now appeals. We review the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter ...