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Harman v. Ahern

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 14, 2014

SUSAN HARMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GREGORY J. AHERN, Defendant.

ORDER RE: MOTION TO REMAND Re: Dkt. No. 5

MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs Susan Harman, Nancy Mancias, and Jane Doe's ("Plaintiffs") Motion to Remand. Defendant Alameda County Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern has filed an Opposition (Dkt. No. 15). The Court finds this Motion suitable for disposition without oral argument and VACATES the October 30, 2014 hearing. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). Having considered the parties' positions, relevant legal authority, and the record in this case, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs were all required to submit to pregnancy tests after being arrested in Alameda County. Compl. ¶¶ 7-9, Dkt. No. 1-1. They filed this action in Alameda County Superior Court to challenge the Alameda County Sheriff's policy of requiring women arrested and booked into jail to submit to a pregnancy test. Id. ¶ 1. Plaintiffs assert that the policy violates: (1) their privacy rights under article I section 1 of the California Constitution (First Cause of Action); (2) the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Second Cause of Action); (3) the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under article I section 13 of the California Constitution (Third Cause of Action); (4) the requirement that inmates provide informed consent before being subject to non-emergency medical care under California Code of Regulations, title 15 section 1214 (Fourth Cause of Action); and (5) the prohibition of illegally expending public funds under California Code of Civil Procedure section 526(a) (Fifth Cause of Action). Id. ¶¶ 25-43. In their Sixth Cause of Action under the Bane Act, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 52.1, Plaintiffs seek injunctive and equitable relief for interference with their rights by means of threats, intimidation, or coercion. Id. ¶¶ 44-46. Plaintiffs seek a writ of mandate and injunction directing Sheriff Ahern to stop requiring female arrestees to take a pregnancy test, and a declaration that his actions in requiring mandatory pregnancy testing are illegal. Id. at 8.

Defendant Alameda County Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern removed the case to this Court on July 3, 2014, on the basis of Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim. Dkt. No. 1.

Plaintiffs filed the present Motion to Remand on July 24, 2014. Dkt. No. 5. In their Motion, Plaintiffs state that they have no objection to this Court deciding the merits of this case, but they are concerned that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to do so. Mot. at 2. They bring this Motion "in order to raise this threshold question at the soonest possible time, so that neither the Court nor the parties expend time and resources only to later find that the Court has no power to hear the case." Id.

LEGAL STANDARD

A defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court to federal district court so long as the district court could have exercised original jurisdiction over the matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). If at any time before judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case previously removed from state court, the case must be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). On a motion to remand, the scope of the removal statute must be strictly construed. 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." Id. Courts should resolve doubts as to removability in favor of remanding the case to state court. Id.

DISCUSSION

Although all three Plaintiffs were required to submit to pregnancy testing in the past, they argue in their Motion that "there is absolutely no suggestion that [Susan Harman and Jane Doe] will ever be arrested or subject to this policy in the future; these two plaintiffs have sued as taxpayers and citizens of Alameda County." Mot. at 2. As such, Plaintiffs contend that this gives Ms. Harman and Ms. Doe standing in state, but not federal, court. Id. As to Ms. Mancias, the allegations in the Complaint provide that she "continues to participate in political demonstrations and is sometimes arrested at them, " and that she is suing "so that she will not be forced to undergo this intrusive testing during future arrests in Alameda County, " in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. Compl. ¶ 8. Plaintiffs bring this Motion so that the Court can determine whether this allegation is sufficient to support standing to request prospective relief to prevent future Fourth Amendment violations against her. Mot. at 3.

In response, Sheriff Ahern argues that "Plaintiffs' allegations indicate the likelihood that Ms. Mancias again will encounter allegedly unlawful County pregnancy policies is more than remote and hypothetical' - and that it apparently instead is a certainty." Opp'n at 2. Because Ms. Mancias sues so that she "will not be forced to undergo... intrusive testing during future arrests in Alameda County, " Sheriff Ahern argues that such allegations would seem to satisfy the realistic possibility required for standing. Id. (quoting Compl. ¶ 8).

District courts "have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Here, as Plaintiffs bring a claim under the Fourth Amendment, there is no dispute that federal question jurisdiction exists. However, "[s]tanding is an integral component of subject matter jurisdiction. If Plaintiff[s] lack[] standing, this Court has no subject matter jurisdiction and must remand the [removed] case to state court." Boyle v. MTV Networks, Inc., 766 F.Supp. 809, 816 (N.D. Cal. 1991) (citations omitted); see also Hein v. Freedom From Religion Found., Inc., 551 U.S. 587, 597-98 (2007).

To establish Article III standing, Plaintiffs must demonstrate that they satisfy three irreducible requirements: "(1) [they have] suffered an injury in fact' that is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3) it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision." Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000) (citing Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992)). Additionally, in a case like this, requesting only prospective relief, plaintiffs have standing only if they are "realistically threatened by a repetition of the violation." Gest v. Bradbury, 443 F.3d 1177, 1181 (9th Cir. 2006); see also City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 105-06 (1983). Therefore, whether a plaintiff has standing to seek ...


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