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Marcus v. UPS

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 14, 2014

ANTHONY MARCUS, Plaintiff(s),
v.
UPS, et al., Defendant(s).

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [Docket Item No(s). 13]

EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Anthony Marcus ("Plaintiff") was terminated from his employment with Defendant United Parcel Service ("UPS") in 2012. He then initiated the instant action against UPS and his former manager, Loren O'Donley, [1] in Santa Cruz County Superior Court asserting a number of claims related to alleged workplace discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination, including a claim for inducing breach of implied contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. See Compl., Docket Item No. 1, Ex. A.

Defendants removed the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441. They contend the Complaint contains a federal question because the claims for induced breach of implied contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing are completely preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185 et. seq.

Plaintiff disagrees and filed the Motion to Remand presently before the court. See Docket Item No. 13. The court has carefully reviewed the parties' pleadings and finds this motion suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). The hearing scheduled for July 18, 2014, will therefore be vacated.

The Motion to Remand will be denied for the reasons explained below.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Removal jurisdiction is a creation of statute. See Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co. , 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979) ("The removal jurisdiction of the federal courts is derived entirely from the statutory authorization of Congress."). In general, only those state court actions that could have been originally filed in federal court may be removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) ("Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, 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."); see also Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams , 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) ("Only state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by defendant."). Accordingly, the removal statute provides two basic ways in which a state court action may be removed to federal court: (1) the case presents a federal question, or (2) the case is between citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a), (b); 1332(a).

When removal is based on the presence of a federal question, the court looks to the face of a well-pleaded complaint to determine whether a cause of action is created by federal law or whether the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on the resolution of a substantial question of federal law. Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp. , 486 U.S. 800, 808 (1988) (citing Franchise Tax Bd. of California v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust , 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983)). "[I]t must be clear from the face of the plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint that there is a federal question." Duncan v. Stuetzle , 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996). The complaint as it existed at time of removal dictates whether removal jurisdiction is proper. Libhart , 592 F.2d at 1065.

Sometimes federal question jurisdiction can arise even when a federal claim is facially absent from a well-pleaded complaint. "[W]hen a federal statute wholly displaces the state-law cause of action through complete pre-emption, ' the state claim can be removed." Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila , 542 U.S. 200, 207 (2004) (quoting Beneficial Nat. Bank v. Anderson , 539 U.S. 1, 8 (2003)). "Complete preemption... is really a jurisdictional rather than a preemption doctrine, [as it] confers exclusive federal jurisdiction in certain instances where Congress intended the scope of a federal law to be so broad as to entirely replace any state-law claim.'" Marin Gen. Hosp. v. Modesto & Empire Traction Co. , 581 F.3d 941, 945 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, Inc. v. Cent. States Joint Bd. Health & Welfare Trust Fund , 538 F.3d 594, 596 (7th Cir. 2008)).

On a motion to remand, it is the removing defendant's burden to establish federal jurisdiction, and the court must strictly construe removal statutes against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc. , 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) ("The strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper."). "Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a case should be remanded to state court." Matheson v. Progressive Speciality Ins. Co. , 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003).

III. DISCUSSION

As noted, Defendants believe two of Plaintiff's claims are preempted by § 301 of the LMRA since Plaintiff's employment at UPS was governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union, of which Plaintiff was member.

Section 301 of the LMRA vests federal jurisdiction over "[s]uits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce[.]" 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). The Supreme Court has expanded the preemptive scope of Section 301 to cases for which resolution "is substantially dependent upon analysis of the terms of an agreement made between the parties in a labor ...


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