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Threadgill v. McLane/Suneast, Inc.

United States District Court, Central District of California

January 8, 2015

Billy Threadgill
v.
Mclane/Suneast, Inc., et al.

Present The Honorable JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

ORDER (1) DENYING PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. NO. 12); AND (2) VACATING THE JANUARY 12, 2015 HEARING (IN CHAMBERS)

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Remand. (Doc. No. 12) The Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 7-15. After considering the papers timely filed in support of an in opposition to the motions, the Court DENIES the motion and VACATES the January 12, 2015 hearing.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Billy Threadgill ("Plaintiff) filed this action against his former employer Defendant Mclane/Suneast, Inc. ("Defendant") in state court on April 4, 2014. (Compl., Not. of Removal, Exh. A, Doc. No. 1.)

According to the Complaint, Defendant hired Plaintiff in March 2012 as a "Selector IV", a job that entailed selecting certain products in Defendant's distribution center for shipment. (Compl. 1) 6.) Six months later, Defendant promoted Plaintiff to a new position, in which Plaintiff restocked products. (Compl.¶7.) The Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs co-workers, jealous of his rapid promotion, began harassing him in various forms. (Compl.¶8.) Plaintiff complained to his supervisor, but no action was taken. (Compl.¶9.) Due to the workplace harassment, Plaintiff suffered increased stress and began experiencing depression. (Comp. If 11.) After seeing a doctor, Plaintiff was placed on medical leave in December 2012. (Compl.¶12.)

In January 2013, Plaintiff filed a claim for workers compensation and began receiving benefits. (Compl.¶13.) In February 2013, Plaintiff successfully requested an additional short term medical leave of absence. (Compl.¶15.) While still on this absence, Plaintiff filed a workers compensation lawsuit. (Compl.¶16.) After the leave expired, Plaintiff returned to work. (Compl.¶17.) However, upon his return on March 18, 2014, Plaintiff was notified that the company had laid off thirty employees, and he was included in this group. (Id.) The Complaint alleges the mass layoffs were a fabrication; that Defendant in actuality only fired Plaintiff and one other employee, both of whom had been on medical leave. (Id.)

The Complaint alleges that after being laid off, Plaintiff filed a claim for unemployment benefits. (Compl.¶18.) Defendant opposed this application, arguing that Plaintiff had voluntarily resigned. (Id.) After Plaintiff was awarded the benefits, Defendant appealed, and the Office of Appeals ruled in Plaintiffs favor. (Id.) Plaintiff prays for medical costs, lost wages and other employee benefits, emotional distress damages, statutory attorneys' fees, and punitive damages. (Compl., Prayer for Relief.)

Plaintiff brings his claims pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"). The Complaint states claims for: (1) employment discrimination based on a disability or perceived disability in violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(a); (2) relation in violation of FEHA; (3) employment discrimination based on the failure to accommodate disability or perceived disability in violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov't Code § 12900 et seq.; (4) wrongful termination in violation of the public policies codified in FEHA §§ § 12940(h) and 12945(a); and (5) failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov't Code § 12900 et seq. (Compl., Not. of Removal, Exh. A, Doc. No. 1.)

This is Defendant's second attempt at removal in this case. The Court previously remanded the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on September 16, 2014, as the Court found Defendant had failed to demonstrate that the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000.[1] Defendant's Notice of Removal explains that on September 18, 2014, after the action was remanded to State Court, Defendant served Plaintiff with a request for a Statement of Damages ("SOD"). (Not. of Removal ¶ 8.) Defendant asserts Plaintiffs SOD establishes that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, and thus, the Court now has diversity jurisdiction.[2] (Id ¶ 34.)

On December 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand. ("Motion, " Doc. No. 12.) Plaintiff argues that: (1) 28 U.S.C. § 1445(c) bars removal of this case, (2) Defendant has not shown the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, and (3) Defendant has not shown diversity of citizenship (Motion at 2.) Defendant opposed on December 22, 2014. ("Opp'n, " Doc. No. 13.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD [3]

Removal jurisdiction is governed by statute. See 28 U.S.C. §1441. 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 or defendants to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending, except otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

When reviewing a notice of removal, "it 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. ...


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