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Ponce v. Medical Eyeglass Center, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 27, 2015

MAYRA PONCE
v.
MEDICAL EYEGLASS CENTER, INC., ET AL

Jacob Larsen, Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs.

Craig Staub, Attorneys Present for Defendants.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND CASE TO LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT (Dkt. No. 10, filed June 15, 2015)

I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

On April 16, 2015, plaintiff Mayra Ponce filed this lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against her former employer, defendant Medical Eyeglass Center, Inc., and Does 1 through 10. Dkt. No. 1-3 ("Compl."). The complaint asserts claims for (1) pregnancy and sex discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940 et seq.; (2) failure to prevent discrimination and/or retaliation in violation of California Government Code §§ 12940 (j) and (k); and (3) retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"). Id . In brief, plaintiff alleges that after she returned from approved pregnancy leave, she was shunned and criticized without cause, then wrongfully terminated on December 12, 2014. Id . ¶¶ 13-21.

Defendant removed this action to federal court on May 28, 2015, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Dkt. No. 1. On June 15, 2015, plaintiff filed the instant motion to remand on the ground that the jurisdictional minimum is not met. Dkt. No. 10. Defendant filed an opposition on July 6, 2015, Dkt. No. 13, and plaintiff replied on July 16, 2015, Dkt. No. 14. On July 27, 2015, the Court held a hearing. Having considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

In order to establish removal jurisdiction over a diversity action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the removing defendant must demonstrate that (1) the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, and (2) the suit is between citizens of different states.[1] As a general matter, removal jurisdiction is to be construed strictly, and any doubts as to removability should be resolved in favor of remanding the case to state court. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

The removing party bears the burden of showing that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996). This sum is determined as of the date of removal. Meritcare, Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217-18 (3rd Cir. 1999). "[T]he amount in controversy is simply an estimate of the total amount in dispute, not a prospective assessment of [the] defendant's liability." Lewis v. Verizon Commc'ns, Inc., 627 F.3d 395, 400 (9th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, "in assessing the amount in controversy, a court must assume that the allegations of the complaint are true and assume that a jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff on all claims made in the complaint.'" Campbell v. Vitran Express, Inc., 471 F.Appx. 646, 648 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Kenneth Rothschild Trust v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 199 F.Supp.2d 993, 1001 (C.D. Cal. 2002)).

The removing party need only include a "short and plain statement" setting forth "a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold." Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014). Where the plaintiff contests the removing defendant's allegations, however, "both sides submit proof and the court decides, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the amount-in-controversy requirement has been satisfied." Id. at 550.

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff contends that remand is required because defendant has failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that plaintiff's damages, as of the date of removal, exceed the jurisdictional minimum. Mot. Remand at 3. The Court addresses in turn each category of ...


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