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Onelum v. Best Buy Stores L.P.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 30, 2013

Emmanuel Onelum, Plaintiff,
v.
Best Buy Stores L.P., erroneously sued as Best Buy Co., Inc.; Dro Nersissian, erroneously sued as Dro Nasissian, and Does 1 through 50, Defendants.

ORDER Re: Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Removed Action [9]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Plaintiff Emmanuel Onelum's ("Plaintiff") Motion to Remand Removed Action [9]. The Court having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion and having considered all arguments presented to the Court, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:

The Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion. This action is remanded to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC500026.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this Action in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Best Buy Stores L.P., erroneously sued as Best Buy Co., Inc. ("Best Buy");[1] Dro Nersissian, erroneously sued as Dro Nasissian (hereinafter referred to as "Nersissian"); and Does 1 through 50 (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging claims for (1) employment discrimination based on race and national origin under California Government Code § 12940; (2) retaliation in violation of § 12940; (3) failure to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace in violation of § 12940; (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"); (5) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (6) harassment in violation of § 12940. Plaintiff alleges claims of IIED and harassment against Defendant Nersissian.

This Action was removed from state court based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and 1441 [1].

Plaintiff is a black male of Nigerian descent residing in Los Angeles County. Compl. ¶¶ 4, 18. Best Buy is a business organized under the laws of Virginia, with its principal place of business in Minnesota, doing business in Los Angeles County. Id . ¶ 5; Notice of Removal ¶ 10.

Plaintiff was employed by Best Buy as a supervisor in the Canoga Park, California Best Buy store, from October 2010 to June 2012, when he was terminated. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11. Defendant Nersissian was Plaintiff's direct supervisor. Id . ¶ 11.

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that throughout his employment with Best Buy, he was subjected to harassment, bullying, intimidation, and discrimination by Nersissian. Id . ¶ 12. For example, on August 17, 2011, Plaintiff "observed [Nersissian] give his cash register override code to another employee in violation of company policy". Id . Plaintiff reported this to management. Id . Subsequently, the Complaint alleges, Plaintiff was "given a final write up and... placed on a 30 day action plan supposedly for poor sales numbers." Id . Later in January 2012, Plaintiff was "written up for attempting to handle an incident with a customer that was abusive towards him and his staff." Id . ¶ 13. After Plaintiff complained to human resources about Nersissian's actions, Nersissian then started to threaten him with "forced transfers or termination", and Best Buy began to cut his hours. Id . During this period, Nersissian repeatedly made disparaging comments about Plaintiff's accent. Id . ¶ 19.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Removal to federal court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which in relevant part states that "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or defendants...." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). All named defendants must join in a removal petition. Hewitt v. City of Stanton , 798 F.2d 1230 (9th Cir. 1986).

District courts have diversity jurisdiction over all civil actions between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

The Court may remand a case to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or defects in removal procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). A defendant has the burden of proving that removal was proper. See Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest. , 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988). If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case that has been removed to federal court, the case must be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Ninth Circuit strictly construes the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance. See Shamrock ...


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