United States District Court, C.D. California
DENISE ALEX, et al.
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO., et al.
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.
Proceedings: (In Chambers:) PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND (Dkt. 10, filed March 3, 2014)
The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of April 7, 2014, is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
On January 21, 2014, plaintiffs Denise Alex, Mirthala Alvarado, Ivan Amnay, Raymond Andolina, Sr., Elonda Austin, Darlene Baker, Samuel Barlow, Gerald R. Barrick, Howard Belton, Miguel Berber, Susan Berka, Daniel M. Bertuccini, Jeanette Betty-Turner, Kathy Biscardo, Rod Blankenship, Charles Boyadjian, Lynette Brown, John Bueno, Robert Burke, Vivian Burke, George Burnett, Elvia Bustamante, Joshua Campbell, Larry Chew, Rafael Contreras, Milagros Cooney, Ramona Costello, Santos Cruz Benitez, George Curtis, Dawn Deloff, Martha Espinoza, Michael Fleming, Patricia Ford, Dennis Frankum, Michael Galvin, Carlos Garcia, Sandra Garcia, Joseph Garczynski, Robert Gaxiola, Mora Giltug, Ben Gonzales, Roderic Gonzalez, Keith Goodman, Michael James Grover, Sheila Haggins, Ryan Hall, Anneda Hammond, Levi Hardwick, Delaina Hartley, Jerry Hartman, Belinda Hartmann, Michael Haye, Joseph Hendrickson, Ernest Hernandez, Louie Holloway, Christopher Todd Holmes, Kenneth Hull, Dawne Hunte, Nilo Huyhua, Sandra Jackson, Ronald Jakola, Stephen Jeffres, Sabrina Johnson, Dale Jones, and Ruby Joseph, filed this case in Los Angeles County Superior Court against defendants JP Morgan Chase & Co., JP Morgan Chase Bank, and Does 1-25. In brief, plaintiffs assert that defendants participated in a scheme to defraud plaintiffs by "securitizing" their mortgages. Compl. ¶ 2. Plaintiffs assert claims for (1) fraud, (2) conspiracy to commit fraud, (3) conversion, (4) conspiracy to convert, (5) violation of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1788 et seq., (6) Unfair Business Practices, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. and (7) unjust enrichment.
On February 24, 2014, defendants removed the case to this Court, asserting that this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because of diversity of citizenship. On March 3, 2014, plaintiffs moved to remand this case to Los Angeles County Superior Court. Dkt. 10. On March 17, 2014, defendants filed their opposition. Dkt. 22. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A motion for remand is the proper procedure for challenging removal. Remand may be ordered either for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for any defect in removal procedure. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Court strictly construes the removal statutes against removal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc. , 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. See Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix, Inc. , 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999). The defendant also has the burden of showing that it has complied with the procedural requirements for removal. Judge William W. Schwarzer, et al., California Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial § 2:609 (The Rutter Group 2007).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), the defendant must file the notice of removal within 30 days after being served with a complaint alleging a basis for removal. When there are multiple defendants, all defendants named in the complaint and who have been properly joined and served in the action must also join in the removal. Hewitt v. City of Stanton , 798 F.2d 1230, 1232 (9th Cir. 1986). This is known as the rule of unanimity. See Chicago, Rock Island & P. Ry. v. Martin , 178 U.S. 245 (1900); see also Schwarzer, supra, § 2:905.2.
If the defendant's removal notice fails to meet the procedural requirements of § 1446(b), the court may remand the action based on the plaintiff's timely motion. McAnally Enters., Inc. v. McAnally , 107 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1226 (C.D. Cal. 2000). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), a motion to remand based on any defect other than subject matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal.
Plaintiffs contend that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000 as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiffs' complaint repeatedly sets forth the following limitation on plaintiffs' claims for reliefs:
All inclusive, each Plaintiff is seeking damages of no more than $75, 000.00 total. It is Plaintiffs' desire and decision to avoid federal jurisdiction by avoiding any matters involving a federal question in this Complaint and by requesting damages of no more than $75, 0000 for each plaintiff.
Compl. ¶¶ 146, 153, 162, 168, 178, 189, 199. Because each plaintiffs' claims arises out of different mortgages, the various plaintiffs' claims are "separate and distinct, " and thus cannot be aggregated for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. See Schwarzer, supra, § 2:1914. Accordingly, plaintiffs reason, the complaint caps the amount in controversy below ...