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Hurd v. American Income Life Insurance

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 10, 2013

DEBRA HURD, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN INCOME LIFE INSURANCE, ELENA ALTINSKY, RACHEL VALDEZ, and DOES 1 to 100, inclusive Defendants.

ORDER re: Plaintiff's Motion for Order Remanding Case to State Court [7]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Plaintiff Debra Hurd's ("Plaintiff") Motion for Order Remanding Case to State Court [7]. The Court, having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:

The Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Order Remanding Case to State Court.

I. BACKGROUND

This Action stems from a dispute between Plaintiff and Defendants American Income Life Insurance Company ("Defendant AIL"), Alina Latinsky ("Defendant Latinsky"), and Rachelle Valdez ("Defendant Valdez") (collectively, "Defendants").

Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of the state of California. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant AIL is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Indiana, with its principal place of business in Texas. Notice of Removal ¶ 9. Defendant Valdez was employed by Defendant AIL as a director and was Plaintiff's supervisor (Compl. ¶ 4), and is a resident and citizen of the state of Utah. Notice of Removal ¶ 10. Defendant Latinsky was employed by Defendant AIL as a manager and was Plaintiff's supervisor (Compl. ¶ 3), and is a citizen and resident of the state of California. Notice of Removal ¶ 12.

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant AIL for more than six years, from March of 2005 to January 31, 2012, in public relations. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff's direct supervisors were Defendant Latinsky and Defendant Valdez. Id . In July 2011, Plaintiff injured her back on the job after driving somewhere on business and then lifting a heavy box. Id. at ¶ 11. When Plaintiff texted Defendant Latinsky that she needed leave, Defendant Latinsky responded that Plaintiff was not to text her. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Latinsky never once asked her how she was doing. Id . Plaintiff was put on disability leave from July 2011 to October 2011. Id . Her leave was then extended through January 2012. Id . Plaintiff alleges that while she was on leave, her managers told her co-workers that they did not believe that Plaintiff was really sick or needed medical leave. Id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Latinsky would call Plaintiff during dinner and demand to know the status of her medical leave and paperwork. Id. at ¶ 14.

While Plaintiff was on disability leave for her back problem, Plaintiff was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she did not immediately inform Defendants because her leave had already been extended. Id. at ¶ 15. On January 18, 2012, Plaintiff told her director, Defendant Valdez, that she had cancer. Id . Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Valdez's only comment was "Wow." Id . Plaintiff then requested additional leave to care for her medical condition. Id . On January 31, 2012, Defendants sent Plaintiff a letter informing her that her employment was terminated because Defendants could not hold her position open, and other people had taken over her duties. Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff believes that Defendants' true reason for terminating her employment was her disability, her medical condition, and her need for leave. Id. at ¶ 17.

Plaintiff initiated the present Action in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County against Defendants. Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendant AIL for (1) discrimination on the basis of disability and/or medical condition in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"); (2) retaliation for complaining of discrimination on the basis of disability and/or medical condition in violation of FEHA; (3) failure to accommodate disability and/or medical condition; (4) failure to engage in the interactive process; (5) wrongful termination of employment in violation of public policy; (6) retaliation for taking leave under the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA"); and (7) harassment on the basis of physical disability and/or medical condition. Plaintiff also asserts a claim for harassment on the basis of physical disability and/or medical condition against both Defendant Latinsky and Defendant Valdez.

On July 18, 2013, Defendant AIL filed a Notice of Removal from the Superior Court to this Court [1]. On August 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed the present Motion to Remand this Action to Los Angeles Superior Court [7].

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." Original jurisdiction may be based on diversity or the existence of a federal question, as set forth in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. 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.

Section 1446(b) governs the timing of removal. If the case stated by the initial pleading is "removable on its face, " then a defendant has thirty days from receipt of the pleading to remove the case. Carvalho v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC , 629 F.3d 876, 885 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Harris v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co. , 425 F.3d 689, 694 (9th Cir. 2005)). If, however, no basis for removal is apparent in that pleading, the requisite thirty-day removal period does not begin until the defendant receives "a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper" from which removability may first be ascertained. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b).

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). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. 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 removal statute is construed 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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