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James Able v. Los Angeles Times Communications

October 24, 2011

JAMES ABLE
v.
LOS ANGELES TIMES COMMUNICATIONS, ET AL.



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

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Present: The Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Paul Songco Not Reported N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:

None None

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER

Before the Court is a Notice of Removal filed on October 14, 2011 by defendants Los Angeles Times Communications, Johnny Walker, Samuel Park, and Bill Delgado ("Defendants"). (Docket No.

1.) Defendants assert that this Court has jurisdiction over the action brought against them by plaintiff James Abel ("Plaintiff") based on the Court's federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

The Complaint, originally filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges twelve claims arising out of Plaintiff's employment with the Los Angeles Times and his subsequent termination while on leave due to an industrial injury. One claim is for violation of "the Family Medical Leave Act/California Family Rights Act." It is upon this claim that Defendants allege federal question jurisdiction.

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). 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). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, this Court has original jurisdiction over civil actions "arising under" federal law. Removal based on § 1331 is governed by the "well-pleaded complaint" rule. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S. Ct. 2425, 2429, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318 (1987). Under the rule, "federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Id. Thus, a plaintiff is generally the "master of the claim." Id. The only exception to this rule is where plaintiff's federal claim has been disguised by "artful pleading," such as where the

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT ...


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