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Vasquez v. Blue Cross of California

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 5, 2015

Manuel Vasquez, et al.
v.
Blue Cross of California.

CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD, District Judge.

Proceedings (In Chambers): ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND [11]

Before the Court is the Motion to Remand (the "Motion"), filed on April 6, 2015 by Plaintiffs Manuel Vasquez and Bethany Noel ("Plaintiffs"). (Docket No. 11). The Court has read and considered the papers, and a hearing was held on May 4, 2015. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.

Background

This action was originally filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, on February 11, 2015. (Complaint, Notice of Removal Ex. A (Docket No. 1-2)). This class action Complaint brings claims against Defendant Blue Cross of California for invasion of privacy, negligence, and violations of California's Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq., and California's Data Breach Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1798.80 et seq. (Id. ). Plaintiffs allege that Defendant failed to properly secure and protect the information of its current and past customers, and that as a result, on December 10, 2014 and February 4, 2015, third parties accessed Defendant's records and acquired the personal and sensitive information of millions of California residents. (Id. ¶¶ 4-5). Plaintiffs do not state an amount in controversy in this Complaint.

Defendant removed this action to this Court on March 19, 2015. (Docket No. 1). The Notice of Removal asserts jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). (Notice of Removal at 2). Under CAFA, the Court has "original jurisdiction of any civil action in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is a class action in which" there is minimal diversity. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).

Defendant also filed a Notice of Related Cases, specifying eight additional cases containing similar claims against Defendant. (Docket No. 5). Defendant indicated that these related cases are currently pending transfer to a pending action before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ("JPML"). (Id. ). On April 6, 2015, Plaintiffs filed the present Motion to Remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that "[t]his case does not arise under federal law, the only parties involved in this action are Californians, and the amount in controversy is not pled and cannot currently be known." (Docket No. 11).

On April 8, 2015, Defendant filed a Motion to Stay Case Pending JPML Ruling on Section1407 Transfer. (Docket No. 12). On April 13, 2015, Defendant filed an Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand, arguing that either Plaintiff's Motion to Remand should be denied or that the Court should delay ruling on it, because Plaintiffs violated Local Rule 7-3 when they filed their Motion only five days after the parties' counsel met and conferred. (Docket No. 13 at 10-12). Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs are seeking an unfair procedural advantage in having the Court decide their Motion to Remand before addressing the Motion to Stay and the pending cases before the JPML. (Id. at 12).

On April 17, 2015, the district court (the Honorable Beverly Reid O'Connell, United States District Judge) issued an Order Requiring Evidence Re: Motion to Remand. (Docket No. 16). In the order, the district court concluded that "the Court must determine if it has subject matter jurisdiction before it can resolve substantive issues." (Id. at 2 (citing Potter v. Hughes, 546 F.3d 1051, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008) ("[F]ederal courts normally must resolve questions of subject matter jurisdiction before reaching other threshold issues. Only where the other issue itself creates the jurisdictional issue... or the resolution of the issue is clear while the jurisdictional issue is difficult, is it appropriate for the court to proceed without confirming jurisdiction."))). The district court concluded that the request for a stay was a threshold issue other than subject-matter jurisdiction, which "should be resolved after the Court resolves the question of subject-matter jurisdiction, " quoting Dent v. Lopez, No. 1:14-CV-00442-LJO-SM, 2014 WL 3057456, at *4 (E.D. Cal. July 7, 2014). The district court therefore elected to consider Plaintiffs' Motion despite their failure to comply with Local Rule 7-3. (Id. at 2).

In order to evaluate the merits of the Motion, the district court ordered both sides to "submit evidence regarding whether the amount in controversy truly exceeds the CAFA jurisdictional threshold of $5 million and whether minimal diversity exists between the parties." (Id. at 3-4). The case was transferred to this Court on April 23, 2015. (Docket No. 17). On April 24, 2015, both Plaintiffs and Defendant filed their respective responses to Order Requiring Further Evidence Re Motion for Remand. (Docket Nos. 18, 19).

Evidentiary Issues

In conjunction with its Response, Defendant filed a Request for Judicial Notice, asking that the Court take notice of an "enrollment summary report" published on the California Department of Managed Health Care's website. (Docket No. 20). As the material is a public document available on a government agency website that is not subject to reasonable dispute under Federal Rule of Evidence 201(b), the request for judicial notice is GRANTED. See Gustavson v. Wrigley Sales Co., 961 F.Supp.2d 1100, 1113 n.1 (N.D. Cal. 2013) (taking judicial notice of Food and Drug Administration Guidance Document regarding food labeling).

On April 27, 2015, Plaintiffs filed Objections to Defendant's Response to Order Requiring Further Evidence re Motion for Remand. (Docket No. 21). Plaintiffs argue that every single one of Defendant's exhibits-Exhibits A through JJ-are irrelevant and constitute hearsay, and must therefore be disregarded.

These objections appear to be largely unsubstantiated, and are raised as to every exhibit indiscriminately. Plaintiffs cannot both demand that Defendant provide evidence to support the basis of the Court's jurisdiction, and then ask the Court to disregard this evidence with vague objections. Moreover, the Court overrules objections as to relevance. To the extent the exhibits have a bearing on the disposition of the ...


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