The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Margaret M. Morrow
Present: The Honorable MARGARET M. MORROW
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants: None None Proceedings: Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion to Remand; Denying Parties'
Requests for Sanctions
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On September 30, 2011, Cardroom International, LLC ("Cardroom") filed this action against numerous defendants in Los Angeles Superior Court.*fn1 On November 9, 2011, Cardroom filed a first amended complaint that for the first time alleged a claim under RICO, 18 U.S.C. § 1964, et seq.*fn2
The complaint was not served for several months; when it was, defendant Tiltware LLC ("Tiltware") removed the action, invoking the court's federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.*fn3
Shortly thereafter, on April 6, 2012, Tiltware and several other defendants filed an ex parte application for an extension of time to answer the amended complaint. Cardroom opposed the motion, and in the same brief made an ex parte request to remand the action to state court for failure to join all defendants in the removal.*fn4 Judge S. James Otero, who was previously assigned to handle the case, granted defendants an extension of time to answer and treated Cardroom's "ex parte request" as a motion to remand for procedural defect. He set a briefing schedule on that motion.*fn5 Defendants timely opposed the motion to remand.*fn6 and plaintiff thereafter filed a reply.*fn7
Although there are more than thirty individual and corporate defendants, Tiltware is the only party that has invoked the court's jurisdiction. In its notice of removal, Tiltware stated that despite "diligent" efforts, it was able to verify only that defendant Chris Ferguson had been properly served.*fn8
Cardroom contends that it also effected proper service on two other defendants, Pocket Kings Ltd. and Raymond Bitar, via certified mail in Ire; these defendants apparently dispute whether the service was proper.*fn9 The notice of removal states that in any event, Ferguson, Pocket Kings, and Bitar consent to the removal. At the time it removed the action, Tiltware had been unable to ascertain whether the remaining defendants had been served.*fn10
The gravamen of the parties' dispute is whether Cardroom had effected proper service on all defendants as of the date of removal, and whether the served defendants joined in the notice of removal as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.