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Weight v. Active Network, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 26, 2014

CHRISTOPHER WEIGHT, an individual, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE ACTIVE NETWORK, INC., a Delaware corporation; and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER: (1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND; AND (2) DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS (ECF Nos. 5, 8, 11)

JANIS L. SAMMARTINO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Christopher Weight's ("Plaintiff") Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 8.) Also before the Court is Defendant The Active Network, Inc.'s ("Active") Response in Opposition (ECF No. 10), Plaintiff's Reply in Support (ECF No. 15), and Active's two Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 5, 11). The Court vacated the hearings set for May 15 and June 5, 2014 and took the matters under submission without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). (ECF Nos. 12, 16). Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and DENIES AS MOOT Active's Motions to Dismiss.

BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff, a citizen of California, brings this consumer-fraud class action against Active, a citizen of both California and Delaware. (First Am. Compl. ("FAC") ¶¶ 2-3, ECF No. 7; Notice of Removal ¶ 10, ECF No. 1.) Active operates the sports and recreation website Active.com ("the Website"), which serves as the exclusive method of online registration for certain events. (FAC ¶ 9, ECF No. 7.)

On or about December 7, 2013, Plaintiff registered for the 2014 San Diego Resolution 5k and 15k ("the Race") via the Website, using his credit card to pay Active both a $35 registration fee and a $3.61 processing fee. ( Id. ¶ 10.) Allegedly without Plaintiff's knowledge or consent, registering for the Race automatically enrolled him in Active's Active Advantage program ("the Program"), which provides "discounts on certain travel and outdoor gear" and future races. ( Id. ¶ 11.) After a thirty-day free trial period, Plaintiff was charged $64.99 for an annual membership in the Program. ( Id. )

Plaintiff alleges that "[s]ince at least February 2010, " Active has been placing, "in small font near the bottom of the [registration] page, ... a pre-checked selection for Class members to enroll in a free trial' of the Active Advantage program, after which time Class members would be billed an annual charge of $59.99 (subsequently raised to $64.99)." ( Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff alleges that thousands of California consumers have been similarly misled by Active's practice. ( Id. ¶ 14.)

On February 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed this action in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of San Diego. ( See Notice of Removal Ex. 1, ECF No. 1-2.) In the Complaint, Plaintiff defined the class as "[a]ll California residents who, within four years of the filing of this Complaint, were enrolled in the Active Advantage program in connection with a credit or debit card purchase they made on the Active.com website." (Compl. ¶14, ECF No. 1-2 (emphasis added).)

On April 4, 2014, Active removed the action to this Court. ( See generally Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1). Active claimed that this Court had diversity jurisdiction because, "[a]ccording to Active's enrollment and payment records, the proposed class, as defined by Plaintiff, includes many California residents' who are domiciled in states other than California or Delaware, " and thus citizens of other states. ( Id. ¶ 11 (citations omitted); see also Decl. of Stacey Fernandes in Supp. of Notice of Removal ¶¶ 3, 5, ECF No. 1-3.) On April 11, 2014, Active moved to dismiss.

On April 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed his FAC, which defined the class to include "[a]ll individuals who... were citizens of California as of February 24, 2014." (FAC ¶ 21, ECF No. 7 (emphasis added).) Subsequently, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand and again moved to dismiss.

LEGAL STANDARD

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, the removing party bears the burden of establishing that federal subject-matter jurisdiction exists. Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). Moreover, 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)).

In general, "jurisdiction must be analyzed on the basis of the pleadings filed at the time of removal without reference to subsequent amendments." Williams v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 471 F.3d 975, 976 (9th Cir. 2006). Thus, to prevent plaintiffs from manipulating the forum, generally "post-removal pleadings have no bearing on whether the removal was proper." Abada v. Charles Schwab & Co., 300 F.3d 1112, 1117 (9th Cir. 2002). However, when a pleading is amended to clarify the original complaint rather than manipulate the forum, the court can look to the amended complaint to determine whether the court exercised jurisdiction over the action at the time of removal. See, e.g., Schuster v. Gardner, 319 F.Supp.2d 1159, 1164-65 (S.D. Cal 2003).

ANALYSIS

The Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) ("CAFA"), grants district courts original jurisdiction over class actions in which (1) the parties are minimally diverse-in other words, at least one member of the class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a state different from any defendant; and (2) the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, an individual is the citizen of the state in which he is domiciled. See Guinto v. Marcos, 654 F.Supp. 276, 278 (S.D. Cal. 1986) (citations omitted). A corporation, on the other hand, has dual citizenship-it is a citizen of both the state in which it was incorporated and the ...


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