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Atamian v. Inland Community Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 6, 2014

ANKINE ATAMIAN, Plaintiff,
v.
INLAND COMMUNITY BANK, N.A.; AMERICANWEST BANK; DOES 1-50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [14]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Plaintiff Ankine Atamian's Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 14.) In her Motion, Atamian invokes 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c) to argue that this case is nonremovable since two of her claims arise under California workers' compensation law. This Court recently addressed this very same issue in Ramirez v. Saia, Inc., No. 2:14-cv-04590-ODW(JCx), 2014 WL 3928416 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 12, 2014), and finds the facts and circumstances of this case indistinguishable. In accordance with the decision in Ramirez and for the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Atamian's Motion to Remand.[1] (ECF No. 14.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Atamian initiated this action in Los Angeles County Superior Court on May 9, 2014, asserting seven state-law claims against Defendants Inland Community Bank, N.A. ("ICB") and AmericanWest Bank ("AWB"). (Not. of Removal ¶¶ 1-2.) Atamian alleges employment discrimination and retaliation based on an alleged disability-psychiatric injuries-suffered due to her employment environment. ( See Compl. ¶ 9.) Among her claims, and relevant to this Motion, are claims for (1) retaliation under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), Cal. Gov't Code §§ 12900-96, and (2) wrongful termination in violation of public policy. (Compl. ¶¶ 45-53, 60-66.)

Atamian, a California resident, began working at ICB in January 2005. ( See id. ¶ 8.) She alleges that from November 16, 2010, through November 16, 2011, she suffered "cumulative psychiatric injuries as a result of her employment environment." ( Id. ¶ 9.) Atamian filed a workers' compensation claim for these injuries on December 28, 2011. ( Id. ¶ 10.) She was then placed on a medical leave of absence in March 2012. ( Id. ¶ 11.) Atamian alleges that she was able to return to work on May 1, 2012, with reasonable accommodations; however, according to Atamian, her employer failed to accommodate her disability and she remained on leave. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Atamian claims that she was scheduled to return to work on June 15, 2012, but was informed in a letter dated May 18, 2012, that her employment had been terminated because her position could not be held open until her return date. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

ICB and AWB merged as of November 1, 2012, after which ICB ceased to exist as a separate entity. (Not. of Removal ¶ 27; Moomaw Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. A.) AWB is incorporated in the state of Washington, with a principle place of business in Washington. (Not. of Removal ¶¶ 18-20; Moomaw Decl. ¶¶ 3-5.) After being served with the Complaint, AWB filed its Answer in state court on August 5, 2014, and timely removed this action to federal court on August 9, 2014. (ECF No. 1.) Removal was based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). But courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and "[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566).

Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action presents a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. A defendant may remove a case from a state court to a federal court pursuant to the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, on the basis of federal question or diversity jurisdiction. But whenever it appears a matter is not properly before a federal court, a party may bring a remand motion. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

IV. DISCUSSION

Most of Atamian's arguments in the Motion are focused on 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c), which prohibits removal of actions that arise under a state's workers' compensation laws. In addition, Atamian argues that AWB has not met its burden of establishing complete diversity. The Court addresses the issue of complete diversity first, and then turns to the § 1445(c) arguments.

A. Complete Diversity

Atamian contends there is a lack of complete diversity in this case because ICB is a citizen of California and AWB's evidence of a merger is insufficient to establish that ICB is no longer a separate legal entity. (Mot. 12-13.) But the Court is satisfied that AWB has met ...


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