The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND (ECF No. 7)
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Luis F. Ramos-Arrizon's ("Plaintiff"), individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), Motion to Remand and Request for Attorney's Fees. (Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 7) Also before the Court are Defendants' response in opposition, (Resp. in Opp'n, ECF No. 17), and Plaintiffs' reply in support, (Reply in Supp., ECF No. 19). The hearing set for the motion on June 14, 2012, was vacated, and the matter taken under submission on the papers. Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion to remand.
Plaintiff first filed an action against Defendants in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego on November 30, 2010. (Notice Removal ¶ 2, ECF No. 1); (Mot. to Remand 3, ECF No. 7) At that time, this case was a single-plaintiff action asserting the following claims:
(1) Violation of the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; (2) Violation of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"); (3) Violation of California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq.; (4) Breach of contract; (5) Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (6) Wrongful foreclosure; and (7) Accounting. (See Pls.' Request for Judicial Notice ("RJN") Ex. 2, ECF No. 9-2 (original complaint)) Although the original complaint contained a federal cause of action-the FDCPA claim-Defendants did not remove the case to federal court at that time. (See Notice Removal ¶ 4, ECF No. 1)
Subsequently, on March 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint ("FAC"). (Pls.' RJN Ex. 3, ECF No. 9-3 (FAC)) The FAC raised for the first time class action allegations. (See id.) It, like the original complaint, also contained a federal FDCPA claim. (Id. ¶¶ 36--38) Defendants still did not remove the case to federal court at this time.
In October 2011, the state court ruled on Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the FAC, granting the motion in part and giving Plaintiffs an opportunity to amend. (Pls.' RJN Ex. 4, ECF No. 9-4) Plaintiffs thereafter filed a second amended complaint ("SAC") on November 17, 2011. (Notice of Removal Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1 (SAC)) The SAC also included a federal FDCPA claim. (Id. ¶¶ 49--52)
Also throughout this time period, the parties engaged in various discovery disputes. (See Mot. Remand 3--6, ECF No. 7); (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 7--9, ECF No. 1) Relevant here, one such dispute concerned Plaintiffs' request for Defendants to provide contact information for certain of its borrowers. Ultimately, the state court determined that Plaintiffs were entitled to the requested discovery:
As a representative of the class, plaintiff is entitled to conduct discovery and know the names and addresses of potential class members. However, due to the sensitive financial issues involved, the court finds that notice to the potential class members and the right to opt out of release of private information has merit. (Pls.' RJN Ex. 8, ECF No. 9-8)
In order to effectuate such notice, it needed to be determined to
which pool of individuals to send the Pioneer notice.*fn1
The state court tentatively ruled on February 3, 2012, that
the notice would be sent to approximately 830 potential class members. (Pl.'s RJN
Ex. 11, ECF No. 9-11) And, after receiving supplemental briefing on
the issue, the state court confirmed its tentative ruling on February
23, 2012. (Notice of Removal Ex. D, ECF No. 1-4)
Fifteen days after the state court's confirmation of its ruling as to the Pioneer notice procedure, Defendants removed the action to this Court, (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1), and soon after filed a motion to dismiss, (Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 5). Plaintiffs subsequently filed the instant motion to remand on April 9, 2012. (Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 7)
In cases "brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction," a defendant may remove the case to federal district court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). However, courts "strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). Therefore, "[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Id. (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979)). The removing ...