United States District Court, C.D. California
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF: Not Present.
ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT: Not Present.
CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL
Honorable JOSEPHINE L. STATON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
PROCEEDINGS: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND (Doc. 25)
Before the Court is a Motion to Remand filed by Plaintiff The People of the State of California. (Doc. 25.) Defendants opposed, and Plaintiff replied. (Docs. 47, 49.) Having considered the briefs and taken the matter under submission, the Court GRANTS the Motion to Remand.
On May 21, 2014, the People of the State of California, by and through the Orange County District Attorney and Santa Clara County Counsel, filed suit in Orange County Superior Court against Defendants, a host of pharmaceutical manufacturers. (Doc. 1, Ex. A.) On June 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed the operative First Amended Complaint. (FAC, Doc. 1, Ex. B.) Plaintiff alleges Defendants have deceptively marketed " opioid" pharmaceuticals in violation of California's False Advertising Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500 et seq., and Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq . (FAC ¶ ¶ 264-277.) Plaintiff further alleges Defendants' deceptive marketing has led to an " epidemic" of opioid abuse, constituting a public nuisance under Cal. Civ. Code § 3479 et seq . (FAC ¶ ¶ 289-301.)
On July 11, 2014, Defendants removed the matter to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1.) On August 11, 2014, the People filed the instant Motion.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
When reviewing a notice of removal, " '[i]t is to be presumed that a cause lies outside [the] limited jurisdiction [of the federal courts] and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.'" Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006)) (quotation marks omitted) (alterations in original). To exercise diversity jurisdiction, a federal court must find complete diversity of citizenship among the adverse parties, and the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Courts " strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, " and " the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). " Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Id.
A district court may exercise diversity jurisdiction over a case where (1) more than $75, 000 is in controversy and (2) all plaintiffs are diverse from all defendants. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The Court agrees with the parties that more than $75, 000 is in controversy. ( See Notice of Removal ¶ 11; Mot., Doc. 25, at 5 n.1.) Therefore, the Court considers whether diversity exists in this matter.
A court ordinarily looks to the face of the complaint to determine whether diversity of citizenship exists. Miller v. Grgurich, 763 F.2d 372, 373 (9th Cir. 1985). Here, the FAC shows the Plaintiff is the People of the State of California. A state is not a citizen of itself and thus cannot be party to a diversity action. Fifty Assocs. v. Prudential Ins. Co., 446 F.2d 1187, 1191 (9th Cir. 1970.) Therefore, looking to the face of the complaint, diversity jurisdiction does not appear to exist in this matter.
Nevertheless, " the mere presence on the record of the state as a party plaintiff will not defeat the jurisdiction of the Federal court when it appears that the state has no real interest in the controversy." Ex parte Nebraska, 209 U.S. 436, 444, 28 S.Ct. 581, 52 L.Ed. 876 (1908). Instead, a court must " look behind the pleadings" and identify the " real party in interest" in the lawsuit. Miss. ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp., 134 S.Ct. 736, 745, 187 L.Ed.2d 654 (2014) (citing Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Missouri R. & Warehouse Comm'rs, 183 U.S. 53, 54, 22 S.Ct. 18, 46 L.Ed. 78 (1901)). Defendants assert that the real parties in interest are Orange and Santa Clara Counties and that, as a result, diversity of citizenship exists. See Moor v. Cnty of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693, 719-21, 93 S.Ct. 1785, 36 L.Ed.2d 596 (1973) (holding that a California county is a citizen of the State for purposes of diversity jurisdiction). Two recent Ninth Circuit ...