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Tracey Cook v. Aramark Corporation

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JS-6 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


June 25, 2012

TRACEY COOK
v.
ARAMARK CORPORATION

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Cormac J. Carney, United States District Judge

CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

Title:

PRESENT: HONORABLE CORMAC J. CARNEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Michelle Urie N/A Deputy Clerk Court Reporter

ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR PLAINTIFF: ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR DEFENDANT:

None Present None Present

PROCEEDINGS: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER REMANDING ACTION FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

On May 3, 2012, Plaintiff Tracey Cook filed this action for negligence against Defendant Aramark Corporation ("Aramark") in California state court. Ms. Cook alleges that she suffered injury due to a slip caused by excess water left on the carpet on which she walked. She alleges that the excess water was a result of negligence on the part of Aramark in cleaning the carpet. On June 21, 2012, Aramark removed the action to federal court, purportedly on the basis of diversity of citizenship.

A civil action brought in a state court but over which a federal court may exercise original jurisdiction may be removed by the defendant to a federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). However, "[a] suit may be removed to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) only if it could have been brought there originally." Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813 F.2d 1368, 1371 (9th Cir. 1987). The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction falls on the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). A federal court can assert subject matter jurisdiction over cases that: (1) involve questions arising under federal law; or (2) are between diverse parties and involve an amount in controversy of over $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1331; id. § 1332. Where a plaintiff's state court complaint does not allege a specific amount of damages, the removing defendant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 95 F.3d 856, 862 (9th Cir. 1996); Littel v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 259 F. Supp. 2d 1016, 1020--21 (C.D. Cal. 2003).

Remand is warranted becauseAramark has failed to meet its burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount of controversy in this action exceeds $75,000. Ms. Cook's complaint does not allege a specific amount of damages, only that it exceeds $25,000. Accordingly, to remove this action Aramark must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount exceeds $75,000. Aramark presents no such evidence. Instead, Aramark's Notice of Removal merely makes the conclusory statement that "[u]pon information and belief, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges causes [sic] of action for negligence, believed to be in excess of $75,000." (Notice of Removal ¶ 7.) Aramark provides no support for this assertion, and thus falls far short of its burden. Moreover, the allegations in the complaint do not indicate that the amount in controversy involved in this relatively straightforward negligence action necessarily exceeds $75,000. Thus, Aramark has not satisfied the amount in controversy requirement to invoke diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Court, on its own motion, REMANDS the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

20120625

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