The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Margaret M. Morrow
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:
Proceedings: Order Remanding Action for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
On September 14, 2011, plaintiff Sonia Cahill ("Cahill") filed this action in Riverside Superior Court against defendants CSK Auto, Inc. ("CSK"), O'Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc. ("O'Reilly"), and certain fictitious defendants, alleging employment discrimination claims.*fn1 On November 18, 2011, defendants removed the action to federal court, invoking the court's diversity jurisdiction.*fn2 The court issued an order to show cause ("OSC") why the case should not be remanded for failure to establish that the amount in controversy requirement was satisfied. It gave defendants until January 27, 2012 to respond and allowed plaintiff to file a reply by February 6, 2012.*fn3 On January 26, 2012, defendants submitted their response to the OSC, requesting that the case be remanded to Riverside Superior Court based on plaintiff's representation that damages and attorneys' fees would be less than $75,000.*fn4 Plaintiff did not file a reply to the court's OSC or defendants' response.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Cahill has been employed by defendants since April 1, 2010 as a delivery driver and sales associate.*fn5 She alleges a number of Labor Code violations, as well as an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim based on defendants' treatment of her during her employment.*fn6
In the notice of removal, defendants invoked the court's diversity jurisdiction.*fn7 The OSC observed that defendants had adduced minimal evidence supporting removal, and that their assertions regarding the amount in controversy were conclusory and facially insufficient. In their response to the OSC, defendants stated that on January 12, 2012, they asked Cahill either to provide damage calculations so that they could assess the amount in controversy, or to stipulate that the amount in controversy was less than $75,000.*fn8 On January 18, 2012, Cahill's counsel responded via email and stated: "Plaintiff is willing to stipulate the[ ] aggregate amount in controversy, upon further review of damages, is less than $75,000, not including any potential costs or attorney fees per statute [sic]."*fn9
In response, defendants asked if Cahill would stipulate that the total amount in controversy, including potential attorneys' fees, was less than $75,000.*fn10 On January 20, 2012, Cahill's counsel stated his "belief . . . that in Federal Court the fees and damages would be under $75,000."*fn11
Defendants' attorney prepared a stipulation for Cahill's counsel to sign, but he later refused to stipulate to the amount in controversy in this case.*fn12
A. Legal Standards Governing Removal ...