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Pham v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 21, 2014

DINAH PHAM, PAULA BERNAL, MARY F. BAILEY, on their behalf and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., et al. Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' REQUEST FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES

JEFFREY S. WHITE, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of the motion to remand filed by Plaintiffs Dinah Pham, Paula Bernal, and Mary F. Bailey (collectively "Plaintiffs"). The Court has considered the parties' papers, relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, and it HEREBY GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion but DENIES their request for attorneys' fees.

BACKGROUND

This case is related to and is a continuation of Pham, et al. v. JPMorgan Chase, et al., 12-CV-6579 (" Pham I "), [1] in which Plaintiffs sued, inter alia, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Wells Fargo Bank ("Bank Defendants"), Money Mutual, Effective Marketing Solutions, Aaron Shoaf, Montel Williams ("Money Mutual Defendants"), Cash Yes, Gateway Holdings Group, LLC, Horizon Opportunities Group, SCS Processing, LLC, Payday Valet, and VIP PDL Services, LLC ("Offshore Lender Defendants"). On November 7, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC") in Alameda County Superior Court. ( See Docket No. 1, Notice of Removal (hereinafter "Second Notice of Removal"), Ex. A, First Amended Complaint ("FAC") ¶¶ 1-17.)

Plaintiffs allege that the Offshore Lender Defendants, based primarily in the Caribbean or Central America, and unlicensed by the state of California, entered into illegal deferred deposit transactions (colloquially "payday loans") with the Plaintiffs. (FAC ¶¶ 19, 34-38.) Plaintiffs also allege that Money Mutual, a payday lender referral service, brokered some of these loans. ( Id. ¶¶ 59-78.) According to Plaintiffs, the Bank Defendants withdrew money from the Plaintiffs' checking accounts and electronically transmitted it to bank accounts belonging to the Offshore Lender Defendants. ( Id. ¶¶ 83-89.)

Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs brought claims for violations of the California Deferred Deposit Transaction Law ("CDDTL"), aiding and abetting violations of the CDDTL, violations of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), and negligence. ( Id. ¶¶ 24-133.) Plaintiffs sought relief in the form of compensatory damages, cancellation of unpaid debt, punitive damages, attorney fees, a declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief. ( Id., Prayer for Relief ¶¶ 1-13.)

On December 31, 2012, Money Mutual filed a notice of removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sections 1332, 1441, 1446, and 1453. ( Pham I, Docket No. 1, Notice of Removal ¶¶ 4-12.) The Bank Defendants subsequently joined in Money Mutual's removal. ( Pham I, Docket Nos. 21, 23.) Money Mutual and the Bank Defendants argued that the Court had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA"), which grants federal district courts original jurisdiction over certain class action suits. ( Pham I, Notice of Removal ¶ 4.) The Court concluded Defendants did not meet their burden to show that the amount in controversy exceeded $5, 000, 000 and granted Plaintiffs' motion to remand. ( Pham I, Docket No. 48.)

The parties continued to litigate this matter in state court, and on July 15, 2013, Plaintiffs amended their complaint to substitute PartnerWeekly, LLC ("PartnerWeekly") and TSS Acquisition Company LLC ("TSS") for Doe defendants. (Notice of Removal, Exs. C and D.) On July 30, 2013, the state court granted the Bank Defendants' motions to compel arbitration, ordered those parties to arbitration, and it stayed all claims against the Bank Defendants pending arbitration. (Docket No. 28, Rare Moon Media LLC Opp. Br., Ex. A.) On August 9, 2013, Plaintiffs amended their complaint to substitute Rare Moon Media LLC ("Rare Moon")for a Doe defendant. (Docket No. 12-1, Rare Moon Joinder and Consent, Ex. A at ECF pages 30-31.) On August 30, 2013, this Court issued an Order in Gilbert v. Bank of America, N.A., 13-CV-1171, which involves allegations substantially similar to the allegations in this case and involves many of the same defendants. The Court denied the Gilbert plaintiff's motion to remand and found that the Court had jurisdiction under the Edge Act, 12 U.S.C. section 632 (" Gilbert Order").

On September 11, 2013, PartnerWeekly and TSS filed a notice of removal, in which they assert the Court has jurisdiction under the Edge Act. On September 27, 2013, Rare Moon filed a joinder in and consent to the notice of removal filed by Partnerweekly and TSS. Rare Moon also asserts that the Court has jurisdiction under CAFA. The Court shall address additional facts as necessary in the remainder of this Order.

ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standards Relevant to Removal Jurisdiction.

"[A]ny 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... to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust , 463 U.S. 1, 7-8 (1983) (citation omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1441. However, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am. , 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).

The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction for purposes of removal is on the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is construed strictly against removal jurisdiction. Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Gaus v. Miles, Inc. , 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus , 980 F.2d at 566. In order to determine whether the removing party has met its burden, a court may consider the contents of the removal petition and "summary-judgment-type evidence." Valdez, 372 F.3d at 1117. It is well established that a court must evaluate whether it has jurisdiction based on the ...


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