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Jose Juarez v. Radio Shack Corporation

January 3, 2012

JOSE JUAREZ
v.
RADIO SHACK CORPORATION, ET AL.



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

JS-6

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 by defendant Radio Shack Corporation ("Defendant"). (Docket No. 1.) In its Notice of Removal, Defendant alleges that the only other named defendants, Ramon Luna and Bill Betropoulos, are no longer in the case because, on December 12, 2011, the state court sustained the Demurrers to the only causes of action asserted against those defendants. Defendant asserts that this Court now has jurisdiction over the action brought against it by plaintiff Jose Juarez ("Plaintiff") based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

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).

In attempting to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Defendant must prove that there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. To establish citizenship for diversity purposes, a natural person must be a citizen of the United States and be domiciled in a particular state. Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd., 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983). Persons are domiciled in the places they reside with the intent to remain or to which they intend to return. See Kanter v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001). "A person residing in a given state is not necessarily domiciled there, and thus is not necessarily a citizen of that state." Id. For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a corporation is a citizen of any state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business.

28 U.S.C. § 1332(c); see also Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990).

The Notice of Removal alleges that Defendant is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. (Notice of Removal at 3:14--15.) Thus, for diversity purposes, Defendant is a citizen of both Delaware and Texas. The Notice of Removal further alleges that, according to Plaintiff's Complaint, Plaintiff "is, and at the time he filed the Complaint, 'was, and remains, a resident of the county of Los Angeles.'" (Notice of Removal at 3:12-13.) However, the Complaint, as Defendant acknowledges, alleges only Plaintiff's residence. Because the only support for Defendant's allegation of Plaintiff's citizenship is an allegation of residence, and residence is not the same as citizenship, the Notice of Removal's allegations are insufficient to establish Plaintiffs' citizenship. "Absent unusual circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the actual citizenship of the relevant parties." Kanter, 265 F.3d at 857; Bradford v. Mitchell Bros. Truck , 217 F. Supp. 525, 527 (N.D. Cal. 1963) ("A petition [for removal] alleging diversity of citizenship upon information and belief is insufficient."). As a result, Defendant's allegations are insufficient to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction.

Defendant also fails to establish that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. When an action has been removed, and the amount in controversy is in doubt, there is a "strong presumption" that a plaintiff has not claimed an amount sufficient to confer jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d at 566 (citing St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288--90, 58 S. Ct. 586, 590--91, 82 L. Ed. 845 (1938)). "Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75,000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, ...


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