The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable David O. Carter, Judge
Julie Barrera Not Present Courtroom Clerk Court Reporter
ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR PLAINTIFFS: ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR DEFENDANTS:
NONE PRESENT NONE PRESENT
PROCEEDING (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
Before the Court is a Motion to Remand Case to State Court filed by Plaintiff in the above-captioned case. (Docket 7). Defendant's Opposition, if any, was due on June 20, 2011. To date, Defendant has not filed an Opposition.
Accordingly, pursuant to Local Rule 7-12, the Motion is hereby GRANTED as UNOPPOSED. This case is ordered remanded back to state court. Nonetheless, upon review of the relevant documents, the Court also notes that it finds the remand warranted on the merits as well.
Federal court removal is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides in pertinent part that "[e]xcept as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any 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 party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. See Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest., 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988). Furthermore, courts construe the removal statute strictly against Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
1. Diversity Jurisdiction
Federal diversity jurisdiction requires that all plaintiffs to an action be "citizens of different States" than all defendants, and that the amount in controversy exceed $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Neither Mr. Zatta nor Air France allege that diversity jurisdiction exists. Moreover, the uncontested amount in controversy is less than $75,000. Notice of Removal ("Notice") at ¶ 5.
Air France claims that "[s]ince [Mr. Zatta's claim] is a civil action which alleges delay and injury arising out of an international flight, it is governed by a treaty of the United States, specifically the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air, Oct. 12, 1929, 49 Stat. 3000, 137 L.N.Y.S. 16 (the "Warsaw Convention")." Notice at ¶ 6. Consequently, Air France contends that this Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and that removal is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).
The presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule, which provides that federal question jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint. Wayne v. DHL Worldwide Express, 294 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2002). Here, Mr. Zatta's complaint does not allege or plead any claim raising a federal question. The face of the complaint merely states a single breach of contract claim governed by California law. Therefore, Mr. Zatta's complaint fails to plead that this Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
There are exceptions to the well-pleaded complaint rule. One exception is the "artful pleading" doctrine, which provides that a federal action disguised or pleaded as a state law cause of action may be properly removed. Federated Dept. Stores, Inc. v. Moitie, 452 U.S. 394 (1981). Perhaps more relevant to the present case is the "complete preemption" doctrine, an exception which provides that a state cause of action can be deemed to arise under federal law where a federal law completely preempts state law. ARCO Enval Remediation, L.L.C. v. Dep't of Health& Envtl Quality of Montana, 213 F.3d 1108, 1114 (9th Cir. 2000). When "the preemptive force of a [federal] statute is so extraordinary that it converts an ordinary state common-law complaint into one stating a federal claim for purposes of the well-pleaded complaint rule," removal will be proper. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 (1987) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted), quoted in In re NOS Communications, MDL No. 1357, 495 F.3d 1052, 1057 (9th Cir. 2007). In other words, "[o]nce an area of state law has been completely pre-empted, any claim purportedly based on that pre-empted state law is considered, from its inception, a federal claim, and therefore arises under federal ...