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Goff v. Dial & Associates PC

United States District Court, Central District of California

January 22, 2015

EARL M. GOFF
v.
DIAL & ASSOCIATES PC, ET AL.

PROCEEDINGS IN CHAMBERS: ORDER REMANDING CASE TO STATE COURT FOR IMPROPER REMOVAL

DAVID O. CARTER, JUDGE

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; they possess only that power authorized by the Constitution and by statute. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375 (1994). If at any time a federal court determines that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, it must dismiss or remand the action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(h)(3). A Court may raise the question of subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte. See Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002). Having considered the Notice of Removal (Dkt. 1) and the First Amended Complaint ("FAC") (Dkt. 1) the Court hereby REMANDS the case to state court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

I. Background

A. Facts

Plaintiff Earl M. Goff was formerly employed by Defendant Dial & Associates PC as a paralegal. FAC ¶ 9. Both parties are citizens of California. Id. ¶¶ 4-5. Plaintiff alleges that, during his term of employment, Defendant deprived him of meal breaks, rest breaks, and overtime compensation because he was incorrectly classified as an exempt employee. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant did not provide him with accurate wage statements listing the total hours worked and wages earned. Id. ¶¶ 20-21.

On April 25, 2014, Plaintiff and Defendant were at the Dial & Associates office assisting their client, D.H., with a workers' compensation claim. Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff heard Defendant speaking with O.M., Esq. ("O.M.") regarding D.H.'s workers' compensation Compromise and Release. Id. ¶ 29. During this conversation, Defendant and O.M. agreed that Dial & Associates would receive $1, 575 in attorney fees for a deposition. Id. Plaintiff later informed Defendant that acceptance of this fee was unethical and a violation of the law because the deposition never occurred. Id. ¶ 30. For this reason, Plaintiff informed Defendant that he did not want his commission from the fee. Id.

Shortly thereafter, Plaintiffs employment was terminated. Id. ¶ 46. Plaintiff alleges that his termination was retaliatory as the result of his complaint and refusal to partake in the acceptance of the deposition fee. Id.

B. Procedural History

On July 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Orange County Superior Court for (1) Failure to Pay Overtime Compensation; (2) Failure to Provide Rest Periods (Or Compensation Therefor); (3) Failure to Provide Meal Periods (Or Compensation Therefor); (4) Failure to Provide Itemized Wage Statements; (5) Violation of the Unfair Competition Law, Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq.; and (6) Common Counts. See generally Compl. (Dkt. 1).

On November 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint for (1) Violation of the Unfair Competition Law, Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. and (2) Wrongful Termination. See generally FAC. Plaintiff bases his Unfair Competition Law (UCL) claim, in part, on alleged violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. FAC ¶ 32. His Wrongful Termination claim also mentions that Defendant was engaged in racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1862.

On November 17, 2014, Defendant removed the action to this Court. See Notice of Removal. In its Notice of Removal, Defendant stated that the Court has federal question jurisdiction over the alleged RICO violations under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Id. at ¶ 2.

II. Legal Standard

Remand may be ordered for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction or any defect in the removal procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Removal of a case from state to federal court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides in pertinent part that "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed ... to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending."

If there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance, remand must be ordered. See Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest, 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988). "The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction." Id.; McNutt ...


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