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Tukay v. United Continental Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 22, 2014

HENRY TUKAY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS Re: Dkt. No. 8, 16

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

Before the Court in this action brought by Plaintiff Henry Tukay against his former employer is Defendants' United Continental Holdings, Inc. and United Airlines' motion to dismiss. ECF No. 8. After Plaintiff filed his complaint in state court, Defendants' removed the action to federal court. Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss, but has filed a motion to remand the action to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447. ECF No. 16.

The Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss in part and deny it in part, and deny Plaintiff's motion to remand.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background[1]

For more than twenty-three years, Tukay worked as a mechanic for Defendants at their Oakland and San Francisco maintenance base. ECF No. 1 at 14. Tukay is a 57 year-old Filipino male who is disabled.[2] Id.

After Tukay was accused of vandalizing another employee's car in the workplace parking lot, Defendants terminated Tukay's employment. Id . Tukay states that Defendants had "no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to report plaintiff to the police, and in fact the San Mateo District Attorney subsequently dismissed all charges against plaintiff." Id . Defendants conducted a hearing regarding the allegations, at which evidence the presented against Tukay consisted of photographs of the vehicle damage which lacked time stamps and statements made by the employee who made the accusations against Tukay. Id. at 14-15. Defendants did not provide Tukay with video footage of the alleged vandalism. Id. at 15.

Tukay alleges that employees of different ages and races were not terminated for "similar or worse misconduct, " but that "other employees of Filipino descent were terminated." Id. at 14. Following one prior incident wherein an employee's vehicle had been stolen from the parking lot, Tukay alleges that Defendants refused to get involved, as the incident occurred "outside the gates." Id.

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC on August 6, 2013. Id . Plaintiff received a Right to Sue letter from the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment on August 7, 2013. Id.

II. JURISDICTION

Although Plaintiff initially filed his complaint in California Superior Court on July 15, 2014, Defendants subsequently removed the action to this federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. Id. at 2. Defendants claim this Court possesses diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Id . Plaintiff seeks to remand the action to California Superior Court, alleging that this Court lacks jurisdiction. ECF No. 26. Plaintiff claims that there is not complete diversity between plaintiff and defendants because defendant Doe One, who has not yet been served, is a citizen of the California. Id.

A. Legal Standard

"A civil action in state court may be removed to federal district court if the district court had original jurisdiction' over the matter." Lowdermilk v. United States Bank Nat'l Ass'n , 479 F.3d 994, 997 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)). "[R]emoval statutes are strictly construed against removal." Luther v. Countrywide Homes Loans Serv., LP , 533 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2008). "Federal 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 burden of establishing that federal jurisdiction exists is on the party seeking removal. Id. at 566-67.

B. Amount in Controversy

In order for a district court to possess diversity jurisdiction over an action, the amount of money in controversy must exceed "the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Tukay's complaint seeks special and compensatory damages, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. Nonetheless, the complaint does not specify the dollar amount of damages that Tukay seeks. Although Tukay's motion to remand does not dispute that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, "[w]here the complaint does not specify the amount of damages sought, the removing defendant must prove by a ...


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