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Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center v. Michael Tater-Alexander

April 11, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge




Before the court is Plaintiff‟s motion to remand the case to Fresno County Superior Court. Doc. 6. Defendant opposes the motion. Doc. 14.


On March 18, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendant in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno. Doc. 1, Ex. A. The Complaint seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions: (1) enjoining Defendant from engaging in certain conduct; and (2) preventing Defendant from remaining on Plaintiff‟s premises once Defendant has been discharged or has refused the care that can be provided to him, or if Defendant engages in prohibited conduct.

Defendant removed the case to federal court on March 22, 2011. Doc. 1. On March 28, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand (Doc. 6), which Defendant opposed (Doc. 14). Plaintiff contends that remand is proper because the court does not have jurisdiction. Plaintiff applied for an order shortening the time for hearing of the motion (Doc. 8), which was granted in court on March 31, 2011 (Minute Order 12). The motion was heard on April 7, 2011.


28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides in pertinent part:

[A]ny civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending. "The threshold requirement for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 is a finding that the complaint contains a cause of action that is within the original jurisdiction of the district court." Hunter v. Philip Morris USA , 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ansley v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co. , 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003). "A defendant may remove an action to federal court based on federal question jurisdiction or diversity jurisdiction." Hunter v. Philip Morris USA , 582 F.3d at 1042.

To determine whether removal is proper based on "federal question jurisdiction, the well-pleaded complaint rule "provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.‟" Hunter v. Philip Morris USA , 582 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Fisher v. NOS Commc'ns (In re NOS Commc'ns) , 495 F.3d 1052, 1057 (9th Cir. 2007)). More specifically, federal question jurisdiction exists "if a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that [1] federal law creates the cause of action or that [2] the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law." Armstrong v. N. Mariana Islands , 576 F.3d 950, 955-956 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage Leasehold & Easement in the Cloverly Subterranean Geological Formation , 524 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

"Whether the complaint states a claim arising under federal law must be ascertained by the legal construction of [the plaintiff's] allegations, and not by the effect attributed to those allegations by the adverse party." Ultramar Amer. Ltd. v. Dwelle , 900 F.2d 1412, 1414 (9th Cir. 1990). "The mere existence of a federal defense to a state law claim is insufficient to create federal jurisdiction over a case." U.S. v. Arcata , 629 F.3d 986, 990 (9th Cir. 2010). Similarly, a counterclaim involving federal law does not provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction. Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 830, 122 S.Ct. 1889 (2002). There is an exception where plaintiff's federal claim has been disguised by "artful pleading," such as where the claim is exclusively governed by federal law or is a state claim preempted by federal law. Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc. , 813 F.2d 1368, 1372 (9th Cir.1987). However, the artful pleading exception is invoked "only in exceptional circumstances as it raises difficult issues of state and federal relationships and often yields unsatisfactory results." Id. (quoting Salveson v. W. States Bankcard Ass‟n , 731 F.2d 1423, 1427 (9th Cir. 1984)).

To protect the jurisdiction of state courts, removal jurisdiction is strictly construed in favor of remand. Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co. , 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets , 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941)). Any doubt as to the right of removal must be resolved in favor of remand. Gaus v. Miles , 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). It is presumed "that a cause lies outside [the] limited jurisdiction [of the federal courts] and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." ...

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